Lucknow Super Giants 153 for 8 (de Kock 46, Hooda 34, Rabada 4-38) beat Punjab Kings 133 for 8 (Bairstow 32, Agarwal 25, Mohsin 3-24, Krunal 2-11) by 20 runs
Kings had made a solid start to their chase, reaching 46 for 1 off the powerplay to take their requirement down to 108 off 14 overs with nine wickets in hand, an equation that should have proved relatively straightforward.
But after Ravi Bishnoi removed Shikhar Dhawan, Krunal’s spell of 2 for 11 from his four overs meant that the asking rate climbed and forced Kings’ batters to take risks on a sticky, two-paced pitch. Jonny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone and Rishi Dhawan showed brief glimpses of their hitting ability but all struggled for fluency as Kings ended up 20 runs short.
Krunal’s star turn
Andy Flower has often packed his teams with allrounders during his two-and-a-half years on the franchise circuit and his Lucknow side have taken his T20 philosophy to its extreme: they had nine bowling options in their side for this game, with Avesh Khan returning from injury to replace Manish Pandey in the playing XI.
Krunal has been a beneficiary of that style, required as a bowler only when conditions or match-ups have suited. With the final ball of his first over, he dismissed Punjab’s only remaining left-handed batter in their top seven, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, when his arm ball found a leading edge and looped up into the covers.
That enabled him to wheel away against their right-handers, conceding only four runs off the bat in his final three overs and trapping Jitesh Sharma lbw. When his spell was finished, Punjab needed 62 off 36 balls with five wickets left and with the out-of-form Bairstow their only frontline batter left standing. When his thick edge off Chameera flew to deep third, it was inevitable that Krunal was the man diving forward to take the catch and seal the game.
Across IPL 2022, Krunal has taken nine wickets with an economy rate of 6.18, bowling three overs per game on average. His record against right-handers is even better, eight wickets with an economy rate of 5.51 an over; Rajapaksa was the first left-hander he had dismissed this season.
Kings have struggled badly against left-arm spin all season and will be now targeted with it in their final five group games. Krunal ended with 2 for 11 and the only cheaper four-over spell this season was also by a left-arm spinner against Punjab: Axar Patel’s 2 for 10 at Brabourne.
Hooda, de Kock start brightly
Lucknow’s top order looked vulnerable early on as they struggled to adjust to the nature of the pitch with Kagiso Rabada inducing an outside edge from KL Rahul, who fell for 6 in his first appearance against the Punjab franchise since he left them at the end of last season. De Kock laid into him with consecutive sixes, but they managed only 39 off the powerplay.
Hooda made a false start, reaching 3 off 12 balls and struggling for control, but sixes off Rishi Dhawan and Livingstone got things moving in the middle of the innings. With de Kock firing too, Lucknow were loading up for the back end before Sandeep Sharma – who bowled out early and finished with 1 for 18 from his four – found de Kock’s outside edge to break the stand.
Super Giants’ slide
From 98 for 1, Lucknow collapsed to 111 for 6 and then 126 for 7. Bairstow, who has primarily been used as a specialist batter rather than a keeper, ran Hooda out with a brilliant direct hit from deep backward square leg before Rabada struck twice in his third over, with Krunal and Ayush Badoni both caught attempting boundaries off hard length balls.
Rahul Chahar caught Marcus Stoinis off his own bowling and had Jason Holder taken at deep extra cover, but Mohsin (once off Chahar) and Chameera (twice off Rabada) hit crucial sixes at the death, dragging Lucknow up to 153.
Mohsin catches the eye
Mohsin Khan’s signing for INR 20 lakh slipped under the radar at the mega-auction but his left-arm angle has offered Lucknow’s attack a crucial point of difference. A tall 23-year-old seamer from Uttar Pradesh, he has only played one first-class game but his pace in the powerplay and slower balls through the middle and at the death marked him out as another exciting local prospect.
He took the key wicket of Livingstone with the first ball of his third over, giving him no pace to work with as he shuffled across to play a premeditated scoop, then made certain of the win with two tail-end wickets in his fourth to finish with 3 for 24 and ice Lucknow’s victory.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98