With eight runs needed from two overs and eight wickets in hand, victory seemed like a certainty for Punjab Kings in their opening match of the 2021 Indian Premier League’s second leg against Rajasthan Royals in Dubai. However, with the help of some exceptional fast bowling by Mustafizur Rahman and Kartik Tyagi, the Royals sealed a dramatic two run-victory.
Losing two important points from a formidable position is set to come as a source of big disappointment in the Kings’ dressing room. By getting a 120-run opening stand chasing 186, KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal had given their side the perfect platform to register a victory and move up the points table. However, the middle order’s failure to complete the job has put a massive dent in their chances of qualifying for the playoffs.
Skipper Rahul could not hide his disappointment on the defeat and called it a ‘tough one to swallow.’ Talking at the post-match press conference, Rahul said: “It’s a tough one to swallow. We have been a team that has experienced games like these before. We need to see how we can handle pressure better. Trying to finish in the 18th over sometimes you go too hard and lose your way and let the opponents in. We haven’t learnt from previous mistakes.”
However, he was quick to point out the positives too. “We pulled things back quite nicely with the ball, kept taking wickets, which is very crucial in this format. Getting runs for me, Mayank and even Aiden in his first IPL game was important,” said the PBKS skipper.
“We will now try to come back stronger and win the next five games,” Rahul added.
More than the result, the familiarity of Punjab losing games from winning situations is what will concern the team management. In the 2020 IPL season, their defeats against Delhi Capitals and Kolkata Knight Riders had followed a similar pattern in which they had failed to chase down a target after a strong start.