Punjab Kings on Friday outwitted Royal Challengers Bangalore to record a comprehensive 54-run win and stay afloat in the playoffs race of the ongoing IPL edition. Jonny Bairstow’s 66 off just 29 balls with the help of four boundaries and seven sixes laid the foundation, while Liam Livingstone hit a blistering 70 to help Punjab amass 209 runs on the scoreboard. In response, Bangalore kept losing wickets at regular intervals to finish at 155 for nine in 20 overs. IPL 2022 Full Coverage
Bairstow hit a 21-ball half-century but was caught by Mohammed Siraj off Shahbaz Ahmed at 66 before Livingstone took charge. Opener Shikhar Dhawan scored a 21 run knock before falling prey to Glenn Maxwell in the powerplay. Amidst the all-or-nothing batting show, Kings skipper Mayank Agarwal tried to accelerate the score but fell to Harshal Patel at 19.
Mayank might have not contributed with the bat in his leadership spell with Punjab, but cricketer-turned-commentator Sanjay Manjrekar hailed him as a “true team man”. Mayank dropped himself down to the No. 5 batting spot as the Bairstow-Dhawan pair continued to open the innings.
“Want to see a true team man/leader? Look no further than Mayank Agarwal, sacrificing the opening position at which he has been hugely successful to offer Bairstow the best chance to flourish. So along with ‘well played’ Jonny, let’s also say well done Mayank!” Manjrekar wrote on Twitter.
Speaking to Star Sports at the end of the game, Punjab head coach Anil Kumble opened up on Mayank’s decision that helped the team boost their playoff chances.
“He (Bairstow) is an exceptional player. His experience at the top of the order it’s not easy for Mayank who has done exceptionally well at the top to sacrifice his place and come down the order,” Kumble said.
“We felt that we needed an experienced guy in the middle as well with Levy, Jitesh and Rishi. So Jonny went up the order and he has done a brilliant job His intent in the powerplay is amazing and the way he sort of took the game away from RCB in the first overs that set the done.”
“He is a very important player for us. Five games back, we sort of decided that the experienced guys would take the initiative. I am really glad that Jonny at the top of the order has paid off,” he added.
The big win has lifted Punjab to sixth and they arestill in the race for a top-four place in the playoffs with two games to go.