Shimron Hetmyer seals nervy win for Rajasthan Royals against Punjab Kings | Crickit

Shimron Hetmyer seals nervy win for Rajasthan Royals against Punjab Kings

Apr 14, 2024 12:10 AM IST

PBKS vs RR, IPL 2024: Shimron Hetmyer's unbeaten 27 steers RR to a three-wicket win over Punjab.

Given what had transpired in IPL 2024 before Saturday, a target of 148 should not have posed any threat. Especially when the team chasing was an in-form Rajasthan Royals (RR) and the team defending was a struggling Punjab Kings (PBKS). However, a tricky pitch at the stadium in Mullanpur combined with a better bowling show from PBKS meant that RR had a few jittery moments in their run chase.

Rajasthan Royals batters Shimron Hetmyer and Trent Boult celebrate their victory over PBKS(PTI)
Rajasthan Royals batters Shimron Hetmyer and Trent Boult celebrate their victory over PBKS(PTI)

In the end, RR did get to the target with three wickets in hand and only a ball to spare, which means they occupy the top spot with five wins in six matches. After an all-round bowling effort by RR that restricted the hosts to 147/8 — Avesh Khan and Keshav Maharaj took two wickets apiece while Trent Boult, Kuldeep Sen and Yuzvendra Chahal claimed a scalp each — it was Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shimron Hetmyer who played crucial knocks to take Rajasthan over the line in a tense chase.

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While Jaiswal got back to form at the top of the order with a 28-ball 39, Hetmyer showed his finishing prowess in the final over of the game. With RR needing 10 off the last six balls, Punjab's Arshdeep Singh began by nailing the yorker twice in a row for dot balls. When Arshdeep erred ever so slightly off the third ball, Hetmyer managed to hit a six to relieve all the pressure. Two balls later, Hetmyer finished the game in style by hammering a rank full toss over the fine leg boundary for six. His 10-ball 27 not out earned him the player-of-the-match award. Arshdeep is known to bowl the yorker in the death overs but faltered in his execution against the big-hitting West Indian when the pressure was on.

It didn't look like Hetmyer would be required when Jaiswal was on song early in the innings. Used as an impact player in this game, Jaiswal stitched together an opening stand of 56 with Tanush Kotian, who was brought into the side for off-spinner R Ashwin and opened in Jos Buttler's absence. Both Ashwin and Buttler were nursing niggles.

If not for Kagiso Rabada dismissing Jaiswal and Sanju Samson in successive overs, RR might have had a much more straightforward chase. Riyan Parag, in superb form this season, also couldn't see it through on Saturday, getting dismissed after making 23 off 18 balls courtesy an excellent catch by Rabada at deep midwicket off Arshdeep. That was when Hetmyer had to come to the party and he didn't disappoint.

Punjab faced a blow even before a ball was bowled as captain Shikhar Dhawan was not available for the game, resulting in Sam Curran taking charge. Similar to the previous games, Punjab's top-order disappointed again as they were tottering at 52/4 in 9.3 overs. Jonny Bairstow's middling run is a cause for concern in particular. He took 19 balls for 15 before giving left-arm spinner Maharaj his first IPL wicket. That Punjab's eventual total had a degree of respectability was thanks to the efforts of Jitesh Sharma (29 off 24 balls), Liam Livingstone (21 off 14 balls) and Ashutosh Sharma.

Having made an impact in the earlier games, Ashutosh again stepped up with a late blitz of 31 (16 balls) — his innings included three sixes and a four — to take the hosts near the 150-run mark. That 72 runs came off the last six overs allowed Punjab to go into the second innings with optimism. For RR, Maharaj and Avesh were the pick of the bowlers.

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