Lucknow Super Giants captain K.L. Rahul will look back at tonight’s two-wicket defeat – its first at home this year – against Punjab Kings in an IPL 2023 match at the Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow with a curious smile. His 56-ball 74, though the bedrock of his team’s innings, once again raised questions about his status as a vintage car among Ferraris in the format.
But his move to hold back leggie Ravi Bishnoi, on a wicket where the ball gripped and turned, till the 15th over nearly proved to be a masterstroke; what with figures of 2 for 10 after two overs. But with seven needed from six, Bishnoi stuttered as PBKS rode on Shahrukh Khan’s blockbuster 10-ball 23 and Sikandar Raza’s 41-ball 57 to snap its losing streak and move to fourth in the points table.
Bishnoi had accounted for PBKS stand-in captain Sam Curran - Shikhar Dhawan was out with a niggle - in his first over before getting Raza caught in his next. Bishnoi’s guile was matched by Mark Wood’s hard lengths at express pace but the lack of a flourishing finish while batting cost LSG dearly.
With PBKS 82/4 in 12 overs, Raza had breathed life back into a dwindling chase when he took 17 off Krunal Pandya in the 13th over, with two sixes and a four. The Zimbabwe all-rounder, at 36, is playing in his maiden IPL and was in sensational T20 form coming into this tournament.
He hit seven boundaries during his knock but also ran well between wickets to keep the Kings ticking on a sluggish surface. When he finally fell, the Kings still needed 21 off 13 balls, but Shahrukh biffed two sixes and a four to resuscitate the chase and eventually took his team over the line.
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