The highest successful run chase at the Dubai International Stadium in Indian Premier League (IPL) history is 181 (by Chennai Super Kings against Punjab Kings) in 2020. Statistically, the target of 186 seemed far-fetched for Punjab Kings, but a solid 120-run opening stand, courtesy a flurry of sloppy fielding display by Royals, made the chase look like a walk in the park. But all at once, in a space of just 12 deliveries, Punjab saw their hopes crashing, losing by just two runs despite having six wickets in hand.
KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal stitched their record fifth hundred-run partnership in the IPL, en route to a 71-ball 120 before the captain, who was granted three lives inside the powerplay, was dismissed on 49. Mayank by then had reached his ninth half-century, lacing seven boundaries and two sixes in his 67-run knock.
With nine wickets in hand, and 49 more deliveries to go, Punjab needed only 67 runs to complete the victory. The impressive opening partnership was enough to reduce Punjab’s workload from a required rate of 9.3 runs per over to 8.2.
Mayank departed six deliveries later, yet Punjab remained in sight of victory. Aiden Markram, Punjab’s latest joinee who was roped in by virtue of his performance in the Sri Lanka T20I series, was joined by Nicholas Pooran, who is one of the best strikers of the ball, and the pair carried the momentum through, adding 42 runs more in the next four overs.
The pair began the 18th over with a six into the top tier against Chris Morris, before completing their fifty-run partnership.
The equation further reduced to 8 off 12. Enter Mustafizur Rahman. On a pitch with a hint of grip, Mustafizur’s slower variations aren’t the batsman’s best friend. He banged in a short ball, then dished out a flurry of wide yorkers while varying his pace, conceeding just four singles in the penultimate over.
4 off 6 then. With two good boundary hitters in the middle and Kartik Tyagi, who conceded 28 runs in his first three overs and has a death over economy rate of 10.42, pacing in from one end, the equation still seemed innocuous.
After mistiming the opening ball, Markram squeezed in a single off the second ball. But Punjab dugout was jolted in the very next delivery as Pooran was caught-behind off a yorker from Tyagi followed by Deepak Hooda, who as well edged one behind. Tyagi went wide again with his yorker and Fabian Allen couldn’t do much as Royals pulled off the Houdini act while Punjab choked yet again.
This wasn’t the first time Punjab have let slip the match from a winning position. Back in 2020, at Sharjah, Rahul Tewatia’s inspirational knock 31-ball 53 saw the Royals pulled off the highest successful chase in IPL history of 226 runs.
In the second half of the same season, Punjab Kings collapsed from 115 for no loss in 14.2 overs to 162 for five in 20 overs to lose to Kolkata Knight Riders by just two runs in Abu Dhabi.