Images from the IPL 2022 match between Rajasthan Royals and Punjab Kings at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday.

Jonny Bairstow got back among the runs with a sparkling half-century, while Jitesh Sharma starred with a quickfire cameo in the final overs to power Punjab Kings to 189/5 against Rajasthan Royals in Mumbai on Saturday.

On a day, when their leading run-getter Shikhar Dhawan (12) struggled to get going, Bairstow hit a superb 56 off 40 balls for his first fifty in IPL 2022.

However, Bairstow however failed to convert it into a big one as Punjab lost three wickets for 30 runs in the middle overs with Royals’ spin ace Yuzvendra Chahal denting their progress with his triple-strike (3/28).

Chahal, who had just two wickets from the last four matches, started to look threatening again, stalling Punkab’s progress in the middle overs.

The leg-spinner had skipper Mayank Agarwal dismissed for the sixth time in 10 innings and went on to get the key wicket of Punjab’s top-scorer Bairstow in the space of three deliveries.

But it was little known Jitesh who came up with his career-best IPL score and lit the stage on fire with his clean-hitting skills as Punjab scored 67 runs in the last five overs to prop up their total.

Promoted at No. 5 ahead of Liam Livingstone (22 off 14 balls), Jitesh clobbered four boundaries and two sixes in his unbeaten 38 from 18 balls.

Electing to bat, it was all about Bairstow early on. The English swashbuckler had managed just 80 runs from seven appearances this season, at a lacklustre strike rate of 105.26, which did raise questions about his place in the playing eleven.

The Agarwal-led side kept their faith in Bairstow as he replaced the struggling Agarwal at the top of the order.

It was a move that finally paid off against the Royals as he overcame an anxious start and took the Royal attack to the cleaners, smashing eight fours and one six in his 40-ball knock.

Dhawan looked impatient and conceded a maiden against Trent Boult early on before he finally departed off a superb one-handed catch running backwards by Jos Buttler at mid-on.

 

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