IPL Turning Point: Bairstow's sensational power-hitting puts Punjab Kings on course to victory (IANS Review)
Before the match against Royal Challengers on Friday, he had scores of 8, 12, 12, 9, 6, 32, 1, 56 -- his best score coming against Rajasthan Royals.
Against RCB, Bairstow came into his own from the first over itself, launching an astounding attack on the bowling that set the tone for the entire PBKS innings.
The 32-year-old right-handed batter started in fourth gear, blasting seven sixes as Punjab Kings piled up 83/1 in the first six overs -- the highest this season. It was the sixth-highest power-play score in IPL history -- the list topped by Kolkata Knight Riders, who had blasted 105/0 against Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2017.
He made his intentions clear with a six off Glenn Maxwell in the first over and then waded into Josh Hazlewood in the second, hammering him for two sixes and two fours for 20 runs.
With Shikhar Dhawan taking a single and a wide, the over cost RCB 22 runs. He jumped out and swung Hazlewood from around his front pad and deposited him high over cow corner. After the Aussie pacer sent down a wide, Bairstow blasted the next legal delivery for a huge six over square-leg, hitting across the line once again.
Bairstow pulled Mohammad Siraj flat over square-leg for a six off the third delivery of his first over. An over later, he hammered Siraj for three sixes, swatting his back of the length delivery well over long-on, flicking off his toes for another effortless six that brought his half-century in 21 deliveries and smashing the last ball of the over flat over the mid-wicket boundary.
His 29-ball 66 at a sensational strike rate of 227.58 meant PBKS had enough overs to recover from setbacks. After scoring 83/1 in the first six overs, PBKS could manage only 69/3 in the overs between 7-15 and only 57 runs in the slog overs (15-20) -- still they managed to cross the psychological barrier of 200 runs.
Liam Livingstone capitalised on the platform provided by Bairstow to blast a 42-ball 70 which meant that RCB had to score at a run rate of over 10 per over and that's what hampered their progress. They lost Virat Kohli and skipper Faf du Plessis in quick succession and Rajat Patidar (26) and Glenn Maxwell (35) added fifty runs for the fourth wicket. After they too were out at the same score of 104, their challenge collapsed and they eventually ended with 155/9 in 20 overs.
For his brilliant effort, Bairstow was declared the Player of the Match, a well-deserved accolade.