An Odean Smith cameo at the end turned out to be the difference as Punjab Kings chased down a mammoth target of 206 against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) to start their IPL campaign with a win. Smith ended up with 25 off 8 balls as Punjab got home with an over to spare in the end.
Punjab were 170 for 5 after 17, needing 36 from the last 3 when Smith came to life. Mohammaed Siraj’s last over, the 18th of the innings, was taken for 25, with Smith scoring 23 of them, deciding the game. Earlier, youngster Anuj Rawat, who had a great day in the field otherwise, dropped Odean Smith when he was on 1.
Punjab had started their innings well while chasing the big target with newly appointed captain Mayank Agarwal and Shikhar Dhawan giving them an excellent start. Once Mayank fell to an excellent catch by Shahbaz Ahmed, Sri Lankan import Rajapaksa kept up the momentum with a quickfire 43 off 22 balls.
However, RCB fought back well with the wickets of Dhawan, Rajapaksa, debutant Bawa and Livingstone in quick succession. That only brought Smith to the crease, and in the company of Shahrukh Khan, he guided Punjab to a comfortable win in the end with an over to spare.
Earlier, new RCB captain Faf du Plessis put on a show as he pushed his new team to a huge first innings total. Faf made 88 off 57 balls, and his 118 runs partnership for the second wicket with Kohli powered RCB to a huge first innings score.
However, RCB’s Achilles heel, their bowling, returned to haunt them as they failed to defend this huge score in the face of a sustained Punjab assault. When it looked like they may have a sniff, Odean Smith decisively extinguished their hopes with 3 sixes and a four in the 18th Over.