“It’s not over till it’s actually over”

A virtue to live by in life and in cricket, a lesson to learn from life and from 20-year-old Kartik Tyagi. Tall, ever so slightly lanky but fit, fierce but with a smile on his face, this boy is already the talk of the IPL 2021 season after what went down in Dubai on Tuesday night against Punjab Kings. The young gun pulled off a miracle in the last over, giving away just one when Punjab needed four for a win, to cap an unbelievable comeback win for the Royals.

Having won the toss, Punjab opted to field first and the onus was on us to set a big total on what looked like a good batting track in Dubai. We lined up with Lewis, Liam, Fizz and Morris as our overseas players, while Mahipal Lomror came in for Anuj Rawat, who had played the previous game against SRH back in May.

Evin Lewis, making his debut for us, and Yashasvi Jaiswal opened the innings, and the left-handed pair took no time in laying the foundation for a big total. Against the pace trio of Shami-Arshdeep-Porel and Hooda’s spin during the Powerplay, Lewis was at his destructive best. His 20-ball 36 created the momentum which set up the innings for us beautifully.

After Lewis departed to Arshdeep, Yashasvi unleashed the power-hitter in him, looking confident in his shots no matter who the bowler, from Adil Rashid to Ishan Porel. It wasn’t Sanju’s day with the bat as he nicked one to KL Rahul early on, while Liam departed just as he looked to be getting into the groove, scoring a quick 25. Yashasvi continued to play sensibly, stroking the ball around smartly while peppering his knock with some big hits. He deserved a 50 in the least, but fell heartbreakingly short, getting caught off a leading edge on 49. The look on everyone’s faces in the Royals dugout told us how much the team wanted that milestone for the young man..

However, that frown was turned upside down in the next over as 21-year-old Mahipal Lomror smashed Hooda for 24 runs, including two sixes and as many fours. The Rajasthan boy was in brutal mood, and went on to hammer a 17-ball 43, making the most of his first opportunity of the season. We looked set for 200+, but regular wickets saw Lomror, Riyan, Tewatia and Morris all depart in quick succession, as we stumbled our way to 185 all out in the 20th over. We lost seven wickets in the final six overs, but the team believed that the score was defendable as well.

Chasing 186, PBKS opted for a steady start with their skipper KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal opening the batting. They were 49/0, compared to our 57/1, at the end of the Powerplay, but it could have been a different story had we held on to a big chance early on. It wasn’t to be our day in the field, and our first chance came in the very second over when Lewis dropped KL on 2 off Chetan’s bowling. Rahul was later dropped two more times in the game, by Riyan and Chetan. However, it was Sakariya who ultimately claimed his wicket and dismissed the batter on 49.

After KL Rahul’s departure, PBKS kept breezing their way through the chase with a 57-run (off 39 balls) partnership between Aiden Markram, making his IPL debut, and Nicholas Pooran. Both played smart cricket, rotating the strike well and hitting boundaries at the right moments, until the Kings needed 8 runs off the last two overs.

That’s when it all turned around - out of nowhere. When all seemed lost, Mustafizur stepped up to bowl a superb 19th over, conceding just four off it. It’s worth mentioning Chetan Sakariya’s effort at short third man, where he stopped a certain boundary and saved us three runs in the process.

With four needed off the last over, Sanju made the bold decision to hand young Tyagi the responsibility to pull off a miracle, and the quick delivered in style, bowling one of the best last overs in IPL history. After one dot ball and a single to start the over, Pooran’s wicket offered us real hope. And with three required off the last three, Kartik bowled two dots and bagged Hooda’s wicket - to send the Royals dugout, and their supporters at the ground into delirium. Sanju Samson’s belief in Kartik, and the youngster’s execution helped pull off the impossible.

The last time we met Punjab Kings, in the first half of IPL 2021, we suffered heartbreak in a last-ball defeat despite Sanju scoring a brilliant hundred. The result, that we lost by 4 runs, will never tell you how excruciatingly close the contest was. This time we defended four off the last over, after a 4-run 19th over by Mustafizur Rahman. 

We now hold the same position in the points table as we did at the end of the first half of IPL 2021, moving above KKR into 5th. Our next game is on September 25 against Delhi Capitals in Abu Dhabi, where we’ll play our one and only remaining day game of the season. What did think of our win against PBKS? Send in your views on Twitter at @rajasthanroyals or to me @cricketpun_duh