MUMBAI: Fifty from Jonny Bairstow (56*) and cameos from Jitesh Sharma (38*) and Liam Livingstone (22*) at the end powered Punjab Kings to a solid 189/5 at the end of 20 overs against Rajasthan Royals at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday.
It was not exactly a great day for the RR bowling attack except for Yuzvendra Chahal, who took three wickets to halt PBKS's momentum in the middle overs.
Ashwin and Krishna one wicket each. Opting to bat first, Punjab Kings got off a great start. Jonny Bairstow adopted a more aggressive approach with big hits while Dhawan took it slowly from the other end.
Runs started to pick up pace in Kuldeep Sen's fourth and Trent Boult's fifth over, which gave away 11 and 18 runs respectively, with Bairstow being the more dominant of his partner.
With the introduction of spin in the 6th over, Ravichandran Ashwin gave his side the first breakthrough, dismissing Dhawan for 12 off 16 with the assistance of Jos Buttler's hands at the mid-on at the team's score of 47.
At the end of six overs and powerplay, PBKS stood at 48 at the loss of one wicket, with Bairstow (31*) joined by Bhanuka Rajapaksha (1*). Rajapaksha, who looked in good touch, smashed Yuzvendra Chahal and Sen for two sixes over deep mid-wicket and long-off.
Bairstow also continued his aggressive hitting, with some strike rotation from both. The duo restarted the effort to rebuild the innings and solidify their side's grip in the match.
Spinners were treated with as much disrespect as the fast bowlers. At the end of ten overs, Punjab Kings stood at a solid 88-1, with Bairstow (44*) and Rajapaksha (27*) standing at the crease.
At the start of the 11th over, Chahal clean bowled the danger man Rajapaksha for 27 off 18, causing PBKS to sink to 89/2 and ending a solid 42-run stand between him and Bairstow. This brought captain Mayank Agarwal to the crease, who hit two consecutive boundaries in the 12th over, cutting through the backward point for his second four that also helped PBKS cross the 100-run mark. Soon, Bairstow brought his first half-century of this season in just 34 deliveries with seven fours and a six and his eighth overall in the league.
Chahal stuck in the 15th over yet again, dismissing Agarwal for 15 with Buttler taking another catch for his team. He followed this by getting rid of Bairstow, who ended up with 56 off 40 with eight fours and a six. At the end of 15 overs, PBKS stood at 122 at the loss of four wickets, with Liam Livingstone (1*) and Jitesh Sharma (1*) at the crease. Only 34 runs were scored from 11-15 overs.
Livingstone ended Ashwin's spell with a flat and straight six. Sharma started an entertaining cameo in the death overs, smashing Prasidh Krishna for two fours and Chahal for a six. Livingstone also matched Sharma's aggression, smashing a huge six and a four in the 19th over. Krishna had the last laugh though, as he dislodged Livingstone's stumps to send him back for 22 off 15, ending the 50-run partnership between him and Sharma.
This brought Rishi Dhawan to the crease. Thanks to Sharma's explosive hitting in the final over, PBKS finished off at 189/5 with Sharma (38*) and Dhawan (5*) Chahal was the pick of the bowlers for Royals, with 3/28 in his four overs. Brief Scores: Punjab Kings 189/5 (Jonny Bairstow 56, Jitesh Sharma 38*, Yuzvendra Chahal 3/28) vs Rajasthan Royals.