New Delhi: Though Punjab Kings missed the services of regular skipper and opener Shikhar Dhawan due to a niggle, Sikandar Raza stood up to hit his first IPL fifty while Shahrukh Khan applied finishing touches with a late cameo to take the side to a two-wicket triumph over Lucknow Super Giants at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium on Saturday.
After stand-in captain Sam Curran and fast bowler Kagiso Rabada picked 3-31 and 2-34 respectively to keep Lucknow Super Giants to 159/8, Raza hit 57 off 41 balls to bring Punjab’s chase on track, followed by Shahrukh slamming 23 not out to ensure the side’s third victory of the competition.
For Lucknow, who have faced their first loss at home in the ongoing season, questions will be raised over introducing Ravi Bishnoi late in the attack, from the 15th over, as well as of captain K.L. Rahul making 74, but not attacking much in the middle overs.
Lucknow had a fiery start to their defence of 159 through debutant pacer Yudhvir Singh Charak. He rushed Atharva Taide for pace and on the third ball, he had the batter top-edging a pull to the third man.
On the second ball of his next over, Yudhvir sent Prabhsimran Singh’s off-stump on a cartwheel ride with a superb nip-backer. Matthew Short was impressive in his 22-ball 34 — pulling, driving, and flicking with ease against Avesh Khan while taking back-to-back fours on short balls from Yudhvir.
He then dispatched an overpitched ball from K. Gowtham with a lofted drive over long-on for six. But the off-spinner had the last laugh as on the last ball of Power-play, Short punched straight to a reverse-cupping mid-off.
From there, Lucknow’s bowlers kept things under control, as Harpreet Bhatia heaved straight to deep backward square leg off Krunal Pandya in the 11th over, despite surviving a direct-hit chance previously.
Raza injected momentum in the chase by lofting Gowtham down the ground for six, followed by hoicking two sixes and a four off short balls from Krunal through the mid-wicket region in the 13th over.
Though Curran and Jitesh Sharma fell cheaply, Raza marched forward to pull Mark Wood through the gap between a deep square leg and a fine leg to perfection for four and took a single through deep backward square leg to get his fifty in 34 balls.
With Shahrukh teeing off from the word go by smacking Wood over long-on for six, Raza crunched a drive off Avesh for four to bring the equation to 23 runs needed off 18 balls. But Bishnoi dismissed Raza for 57 after the right-handed batter swept straight to deep backward square leg.
Shahrukh got a top edge on six off Wood while Harpreet Brar drove him through extra cover for four. But the pacer bounced back by getting Brar to edge behind in the penultimate over. After taking two runs each on the first two balls, Shahrukh finished off the chase by hammering Bishnoi through long-off for four to seal the win.
Brief scores: Lucknow Super Giants 159/8 in 20 overs (K.L. Rahul 74, Kyle Mayers 29; Sam Curran 3-31, Kagiso Rabada 2-34) lost to Punjab Kings 161/8 in 19.3 overs (Sikandar Raza 57, Matthew Short 34; Ravi Bishnoi 2-18, Yudhvir Singh Charak 2-19) by two wickets