120/0 in chase of 186. Punjab Kings openers had laid a solid foundation for what seemed an easy chase against Rajasthan Royals in their first match of the UAE leg of IPL 2021 on Tuesday night. With four runs needed of the last six deliveries, the match was theirs to be lost.
And then six deliveries later, it wasn’t PBKS camp that was erupting in joy. It was RR who had pulled off an incredible win by successfully defending four runs thanks to their uncapped India fast bowler Kartik Tyagi who held his own and took two wickets apart from allowing just a single.
From outside, it was PBKS who remained the overwhelming favourites as Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul set them off in the chase with a century partnership. However, Samson, as he said later, didn’t lose faith in his bowlers.
“It’s funny that we kept believing (we could win),” a relieved Samson said during the post-match presentation.
However, Samson’s decision to bring in Riyan Parag right after they had dismissed Agarwal on 67 raised eyebrows. Parag ended up leaking 16 runs allowing PBKS a much-needed release after they had lost two quick wickets.
Samson later explained he wanted his frontline pacers to be kept for the later stage.
“I kept the overs of Mustafizur (Rahman) and Tyagi for the end. We just kept fighting and believing. I always believe in my bowlers. Wanted to keep fighting and that’s why I kept those two overs till the end,” Samson explained.
“Tyagi was confident with his yorkers, especially wide yorkers. Executed them well against the new batters,” he added.
On the question of RR not being able to score in the vicinity of 200 runs despite being at a stage where it looked a real possibility, Samson said, “To be very honest, to get that score on this wicket, we felt good because we had the bowling. If we took the (dropped) catches, we could have won the game earlier.”