Mayank Agarwal and Shikhar Dhawan cracked half-centuries at the top to propel Punjab to a 12-run win over the five-time title winners and the most successful team in the Indian T20 Cricket League, Mumbai, in the Match No 23 played at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) Stadium in Pune on Wednesday night.
The narrow defeat by 12 runs was the fifth consecutive loss for the R Sharma-led team Mumbai in the Indian T20 Cricket League 2022, which kept them at the bottom of the points table without any points in their account and and Net Run Rate of -1.072, whereas Punjab rose to the third spot, having recorded their 3rd win in 5 matches with a total of 6 points and a Net Run Rate of 0.239.
While they will be disappointed with the outcome that has pushed them further into misery with no immediate solution in hand, Mumbai will be pleased with the fact that their young batsmen — South Africa’s Dewald Brevis and India’s Tilak Varma — stood tall in the fact of adversity and fought incredibly hard to get them back in contention when all seemed lost.
But before all that, Mumbai’s bowlers were pulverised once again at the MCA Stadium in Pune, with Punjab finishing at 198/5 in their first innings. Punjab captain Mayank Agarwal broke the shackles and bounced back into form after a string of low scores, smacking 6 fours and 2 sixes to score 52 from 32 balls.
The other Punjab opener, Shikhar Dhawan, started off happily playing the second fiddle and seamlessly switched gears midway through the innings to finish with 70 from 50 balls, spangled with 5 fours and 3 sixes.
Together, they added 97 runs in 9.3 overs to put Punjab in a commanding position and despite Mumbai’s fightback in the overs that followed, they finished at a total which proved to be beyond the reach of R Sharma’s men.
Punjab’s wicketkeeper-batsman Jitesh Sharma hammered a 15-ball 30 with 2 sixes and as many fours whereas their aggressive hitter Shahrukh Khan who has the license to go after the bowling, smacked a 6-ball 15 not out with 2 hits over the ropes to take their side close to the 200-run mark.
While each of their bowlers were punished by the Punjab batsmen, Mumbai’s right-arm pacer Basil Thampi returned with 2/47 from his 4 overs while the others in Jaydev Unadkat, Jasprit Bumrah and Murugan Ashwin returned with 1 wicket apiece.
With all odds stacked against them and a chase of 200 requiring their big guns to fire together, Mumbai were left disappointed when they lost their best batting pair in R Sharma and Ishan Kishan at the total of 32 in 4.1 overs.
The Mumbai captain R Sharma began on the best note possible, tearing into the Punjab fast bowlers to swat 3 fours and 2 sixes before Kagiso Rabada surprised the right-handed batsman with a ball that hurried on to the batsman. R Sharma was caught halfway through the stroke as he was looking to pull, and a top edge was collected by Vaibhav Arora.
Vaibhav Arora gave Punjab another reason to celebrate soon as he had Ishan Kishan caught behind by Jitesh Sharma for a 6-ball 3, and Mumbai were in all sorts of trouble.
This was when the young Protea batsman Dewald Brevis and Tilak Varma stood up, putting on 84 runs for the third wicket in a partnership which was highlighted by exquisite strokeplay.
Dewald Brevis was particularly severe on the India and Punjab spinner Rahul Chahar, hammering the leg-spinner for 4 consecutive sixes in the 9th over of the innings to bring Mumbai back in contention of winning the contest.
However, once the young right-handed South African was dismissed having scored 49 from 25 balls with 4 fours and 5 sixes, Mumbai’s fight petered out. Tilak Varma was run out for 36, an innings which came off 20 balls with 3 fours and 2 sixes.
Mumbai were let down by their star all-rounder Kieron Pollard once again when the burly West Indian once again failed to chip in with the bat, being run out for 10 and Suryakumar Yadav was left to finish the game all by himself, in the company of the tailend batsmen.
Suryakumar Yadav hit a couple of sixes off Vaibhav Arora in the last two balls of the 17th over, but he could not clear the boundary when Kagiso Rabada came on to bowl the penultimate over of the match. Mumbai’s hopes of winning the contest ended with Suryakumar Yadav falling for a 30-ball 43, studded with 1 four and 4 sixes.
With a horrendous start to the Indian T20 Cricket League 2022 season hounding them, Mumbai are now left with an uphill task of resurrecting their campaign as they next face a confident and dangerous Lucknow on Saturday afternoon, whereas Punjab will be locking horns with a rejuvenated Hyderabad team on Sunday afternoon.