Shikhar Dhawan scored an 88 not out while Punjab bowlers produced a combined show to help their side move up to the 6th position in the points table for the Indian T20 Cricket League 2022 tournament, following their narrow but convincing 11-run victory over Chennai in the Match No 38 played at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Monday night.
Shikhar Dhawan’s 88 not out overshadowed a brilliant knock by Ambati Rayudu of 78 from just 39 balls in the second half of the game as Chennai succumbed to their 6th defeat in 8 matches so far and remained at the penultimate position in the points table for the Indian T20 Cricket League 2022,
Punjab are currently placed 6th in the points table with 4 victories and as many defeats giving them eig8ht points and a negative Net Run Rate (NRR) of -0.419. On the other hand, despite winning two games, Chennai are languishing at the second last position in the points table having recorded 2 wins and 6 defeats from 8 matches giving them 6 points and a Net Run Rate (NRR) of -0.538.
The architect of Punjab’s win on Monday night was Shikhar Dhawan, who was absolutely belligerent in his second half-century of the season, but unfortunate to have missed out on converting it into a triple digit score. Shikhar Dhawan faced 59 balls and cracked 9 boundaries and 2 sixes to remain unbeaten on 88, whereas the second best performance came from Sri Lanka’s Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who made 42 off 32 balls.
Punjab captain Mayank Agarwal had to deal with disappointment once again as he was dismissed by Chennai’s Sri Lanka spinner Maheesh Theekshana for 18 from 21 balls, playing one straight into the hands of Shivam Dubey who was manning the point position. But a 110-run stand for the second wicket between Shikhar Dhawan and Bhanuka Rajpaksa took Punjab to a position of domination in the contest.
The left-handed Bhanuka Rajapaksa was lucky to have received two lifelines which he made most of, scoring 42 from 32 balls with the help of 2 boundaries and as many sixes to mark a strong comeback into the playing XI after missing out on a few games in between.
His 110-run partnership for the second wicket with Shikhar Dhawan laid the platform for what turned out to be a second consecutive victory for Punjab this season over the four-time title winners Chennai.
Punjab had earlier beaten Chennai by 54 runs in their first meeting in the tournament.
The swashbuckling English all-rounder Liam Livingstone did extremely well to smack 2 sixes and a boundary to make 19 not out from 7 balls towards the end — perhaps the knock which proved to be the difference between the two teams on Monday night.
In their reply, Chennai met a shaky start losing batting star Robin Uthappa for a 7-ball 1, and Arshdeep Singh striking again to remove Mitchell Santner for a 15-ball 9.
After missing a chunk of cricket due to an injury followed by a surgery to his face, Rishi Dhawan made a memorable comeback to the Indian T20 Cricket League as well as to the game itself. The senior cricketer returned with 2/39 from his 4 overs, and even though he was expensive, Rishi Dhawan managed to knock over in-form and the most dangerous Chennai batsmen, Shivam Dube, for 8.
After they were left reeling at 40/3 in 7 overs, Chennai bounced back riding on two pivotal partnerships in which Ambati Rayudu played a massive role.
After adding 49 runs for the fourth wicket with Ruturaj Gaikwad — with the right-handed opening batsmen scoring 30 from 27 balls with 4 fours — Ambati Rayudu joined forces with Chennai captain Ravindra Jadeja to add a vital 64-run stand for the fifth wicket.
The right-handed Ambati Rayudu was absolutely severe on the Punjab bowlers, hitting 6 sixes and 7 boundaries to make 78 from only 39 balls, but he could not take his side past the finish line.
Chennai remained in the game as long as Ambati Rayudu was in the middle, and once Kagiso Rabada broke through the defense of the right-handed batsman on the second last ball of the 18th over — when Chennai needed another 35 runs to win from 13balls — their fight fizzled out.
M Dhonii smacked a six and a four to keep the hopes alive for Chennai, but the target was beyond their reach as Punjab completed a 11-run win and 2 points.