Punjab took the game right at the death to pip Hyderabad in a close encounter and move up in the Indian T20 League tally.
A fantastic spell from Ravi Bishnoi and Murugan Ashwin in the middle-overs and then by Chris Jordan at the death won the game for Punjab by 12 runs against a strong Hyderabad team, which dominated the proceedings from the beginning, only to crumble at the death.
Both teams had identical starts with the bat, having scored similar runs in 13 overs, but a dominant display with the ball in the end gave Punjab all two points, which now sees them piping Hyderabad in the points tally. Punjab, who were put in to bat, scored 126/7 on board, which is the lowest first innings total at Dubai in Indian T20 League 2020, and while Hyderabad looked well on course, they fell short as their middle-order once against collapsed.
Hyderabad brilliant with the ball, but poor in fielding
Restricting Punjab to 126 was down to the brilliance of the bowlers, but the total could have been much lower had their fielders shown a tad bit more awareness. Of the lot, teenager Abdul Samad was the culprit on the night. He was, in fact, at fault in the very first over, committing himself to the ball much earlier than he should have. As a result, his single-handed pick up was missed and Punjab went away with two runs.
The 18-year-old was at it again in the fifth over and once again at Mandeep Singh’s shot. In what could have been just a couple of runs, Punjab got four out of it after Samad misread the path entirely and lost his bearings. There were several such instances here and there, and after managing to not concede a boundary for over 11 overs, the 2016 Indian T20 League winners gave way rather poorly, this time through their captain, David Warner.
Committing to the Nicholas Pooran shot at the long-on, Warner dove but couldn’t get hold of a wobbling ball, which found its way under his hand to clear the rope. Three deliveries later, the penultimate ball of the innings, Vijay Sharkar’s poor throw failed to find the keeper and Pooran managed to get two runs on the board. The errors cost them six runs; enough to change the course of the game.
Jason Holder: Hyderabad’s sweet headache
Jason Holder has had a glaring impact in the Hyderabad team, picking five wickets in his last two games. Replacing an injured Kane Williamson against Rajasthan on Thursday, the West Indies all-rounder picked three scalps - that of Sanju Samson, Steve Smith and Riyan Parag - to finish with a figure of 33/3 in four overs. On Saturday, he got the better of Chris Gayle and Chris Jordan while giving away just 27 runs.
His upsurge in form can be troubling to others, but it also lends Hyderabad a sweet conundrum as far as picking their foreign players. David Warner, Jonny Bairstow and Rashid Khan are simply unassailable, which leaves Holder and Williamson battling for a place. Williamson, on his part, has pillared responsibilities to mere perfection, providing a much-needed shoulder to the team’s middle-order, while Holder has shared exploits with the pace department. It’s a healthy debate really as Holder is indeed a valuable asset with the ball, but in situations like tonight's, where the pitch was acting slow, Kane Williamson would have been the right fit.
Will the real Vijay Shankar please stand up?
Vijay Shankar’s three-dimensional skills were on full display against Rajasthan, where he not only played a match-winning partnership with Manish Pandey but was also economical with the ball in three overs. On Saturday, the 29-year-old was once again one of the driving forces, especially with the bat, as Hyderabad lost the game at the death. Holder’s inclusion means Vijay Shankar was relieved from his bowling duties against Punjab, and as was expected, he started on the back foot, taking time to acclimatise to the slow pitch.
But as others around him crumbled, his steady approach took Hyderabad steps away from glory. An important victory would have been achieved only if he had steady support.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @IndianT20league