Punjab Kings 180 for 8 (Livingstone 60, Dhawan 33, Jordan 2-23) beat Chennai Super Kings 126 (Dube 57, Chahar 3-25, Livingstone 2-25) by 54 runs
Despite an early trend for sides winning while chasing, this was the third game in a row in which a total was successfully defended. Super Kings were perhaps the happier side at the halfway mark, after dragging Kings back from a score of 109 for 2 with one ball of the tenth over to go, but the signs that their innings might not be the expected stroll were when Chris Jordan, who claimed 2 for 23 with an excellent death-bowling display, noted with surprise the lack of evening dew.
Needing to go at nine an over on a Brabourne surface that had looked good for batting, Super Kings were quickly in trouble as the Kings seam attack punched holes in their top order. Kagiso Rabada, Arora and Arshdeep Singh all struck in the powerplay, and when Ambati Rayudu was acrobatically caught by another debutant, wicketkeeper Jitesh Sharma, off a vicious Odean Smith lifter in the eighth over, the game was all but over as a contest.
From 36 for 5, Super Kings were indebted to Shivam Dube’s 30-ball 57 for keeping them clinging to the tails of the asking rate. But Livingstone struck twice in two balls to continue a fine night’s work and when MS Dhoni was ninth out at the start of the 18th over, caught behind for a laboured 23 off 28, the jig really was up.
Livi lets fly
Picked up for a price of 11.5 crore INR (USD 1.53 million) in February’s auction, following a stellar year in T20 competitions around the world, Livingstone was still waiting for a performance to match his billing at the IPL. He finally produced under the lights in Mumbai, taking the attack back to Super Kings after wickets in each of the first two overs had left Kings 14 for 2.
Livingstone’s aggression was the chief reason for Kings posting the second-highest powerplay score of the season so far (Super Kings have conceded the top two). Left-arm swing bowler Mukesh Choudhary bore the brunt of it, conceding 34 runs from the 12 balls delivered to Livingstone – his third over alone costing 26. Three times Livingstone made room to thrashes sixes to the short leg-side boundary – one of them a 108-metre monster – while also crashing Choudhary for fours down the ground, over cover (twice) and past short third.
With Shikhar Dhawan finding his groove by taking three boundaries off Dwayne Bravo’s introductory over, Kings were up and running at 72 for 2 after six.
Super Kings should have removed Livingstone in the first over after the powerplay, however. Having danced down to crash Jadeja’s first ball into the sightscreen for his fourth six, he sliced the final ball of the over straight to short third – but Rayudu, despite having time to settle under it, shelled a simple chance. In the next over, a thin edge down the leg side off Dwaine Pretorius was held by Dhoni, only for the keeper to ground the ball in his glove tips as he dived to his left.
Livingstone duly brought up his first IPL half-century, from 27 balls, a couple of overs later, via a top-edged swat at Bravo that sailed over fine leg. The Englishman’s previous highest score in the competition was 44 off 26 balls, made in his second match for Rajasthan Royals in 2019, and he had gone nine innings without passing 25 since then.
CSK tighten up
A 95-run stand between Livingstone and Dhawan had Kings on track for the 200-plus score that they possibly needed to feel safe. But after Dhawan miscued Bravo to the edge of the cover ring from the final ball of the tenth over, and Livingstone was this time taken by Rayudu at short third in Jadeja’s next, the innings stuttered towards an unsatisfactory conclusion in the face of some solid death bowling from Jordan, playing his first game for Super Kings, and Dwaine Pretorius.
Jordan had started well, avoiding the early carnage to send down two powerplay overs at a cost of 13 runs. He then picked up 2 for 10 while bowling the 16th and 18th, repeatedly hitting a yorker length and forcing Shahrukh Khan and Smith to unsuccessfully take on the longer leg-side boundary. Sharma’s cameo aside, Kings lacked a batter to finish the innings off, managing to cobble 71 for 5 from their last ten overs.
Gaikwad sets tone
Epitomising the champions’ struggles has been the form of Ruturaj Gaikwad, last season’s orange cap winner. For the third match in a row, Gaikwad lasted just four balls and didn’t manage to get past 1; here he might have been caught off both his second and third balls, before Rabada eventually coaxed a thick outside edge to slip from the final ball of the second over. With Robin Uthappa caught off a leading edge two balls later, Moeen Ali chopping on in the fifth and Jadeja also bowled off an inside edge, Super Kings had made the sort of horror start from which their chase could never recover.
Kings debutants shine
Discussion before Kings’ third game had centered on how they might get Jonny Bairstow into their side. In the end, the experienced England batter wasn’t needed, and it was two men handed their IPL caps before the toss that stood out. Sharma made a confident start with the bat, swiping his second ball, from Moeen, for six and landing similar blows on Choudhary and Jadeja in a sparky 26 off 17; he later added a stunning grab to dismiss Rayudu, and was the prime mover in Kings reviewing to have Dhoni caught down the leg side off Rahul Chahar.
Arora, meanwhile, shone during an opening spell in which he bowled his four overs off the reel. The 24-year-old made the new ball move both ways, having Rayudu taken at mid-off in his second over before inducing a drag-on from Moeen in his third, after which his figures read 2-0-12-2. Arora-ing success, you might say.
Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick