Mumbai, May 14 (IANS): Friday's match between Punjab Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore at Brabourne Stadium will be remembered for how Jonny Bairstow smashed everything coming in his way during the powerplay.
Bairstow's takedown of Bangalore's bowlers in powerplay, especially in taking 22 runs off Australia speedster Josh Hazlewood's first over, was a sight to behold as the wicketkeeper-batter cruised his way to making 66 off just 29 balls, laced with four boundaries and seven sixes, to set up a crucial 54-run win for Punjab.
Before Friday's match, Bairstow had an indifferent time, amassing just 136 runs in eight innings at a strike rate of 117.24. But everything changed on Friday evening as Bangalore ran out of ideas to stop Bairstow's onslaught. At the end of powerplay, Bairstow had made 59 runs at a strike rate of 268.18, the most runs made by a batter in this phase during the tournament.
"It depends on what you class as a tough tournament really. Because obviously I have been caught at fine leg twice, third man once, and run out on 19.5 overs so there is a difference in being unselfish and it being a difficult competition. Now I am happy with the way I have transitioned to opening the batting. It has been very enjoyable being back at the top," said Bairstow in the post-match virtual press conference.
Bairstow was pleased with him being able to make the most out of powerplay and finding his A-game as an opener in the shortest format of the game. "Just think that sometimes there is balls in your area, and you have to try to take advantage of that. Sometimes it is fine lines where you might get caught on the boundary, just inside the rope, or you might get a thin edge on another one. Today was a good day. Was happy to take advantage of the powerplay."
Friday's match was also a reminder of what Punjab's ultra-aggressive batting approach can do when Bairstow and Liam Livingstone unleashed carnage on Bangalore's bowlers. "That has generally been the ethos of how we have tried to go about all of the tournament. That has been the way in which the guys want to go about the process of the game.
"You may have noticed sometimes we have lost wickets in clusters in the middle, which has stifled our progress on from there. But I think on the whole that was the way we wanted to try and go about it for a majority of the tournament. It doesn't happen all the time but if we can do it more often than not, then hopefully when a couple of people stand up we can get that job done," explained Bairstow.
Now, with 12 points in as many matches, Punjab have given themselves a good chance to get into the playoffs with their remaining matches coming against Delhi Capitals on Monday, followed by meeting Sunrisers Hyderabad on May 22.