Punjab Kings celebrated a thrilling four-run win over Rajasthan Royals this morning as some last-over drama caused plenty of debate in cricket circles.
Chasing Punjab’s 6/221, Rajasthan needed 13 runs from the final six deliveries with four wickets in hand. At the crease were captain Sanju Samson, who at that stage had plundered 112 from 58 balls, and South African all-rounder Chris Morris (one off three balls), who became the most expensive player in IPL history when he was bought for nearly $2.9 million ahead of the 2021 edition of the T20 tournament.
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A dot ball was followed by two singles from Arshdeep Singh, before Samson swatted his seventh six of the innings over extra cover. The equation was now five from two balls for the Royals.
Samson cracked the penultimate ball of the match to long off, but as Morris set off for an easy single, the Indian star stayed put. Morris made it all the way up the other end but Samson sent him back, much to the South Africa’s confusion.
Puzzled, he asked Samson what he was thinking by gesturing with his hand, and didn’t look too pleased with the decision, giving his skipper a death stare.
Had they run, Morris would have needed to hit a four off the final ball to win. Instead, the Royals still needed five for victory and Samson clearly thought there was more chance of him crashing another six, than there was of his teammate finding the boundary.
‘I don’t believe what I’ve just seen’
Former New Zealand fast bowler Simon Doull couldn’t believe his eyes.
“My goodness. My goodness. He’s turned the run down, Sanju Samson,” Doull said in commentary.
“I don’t believe what I’ve just seen, because at least Morris can hit a four for the win.”
Indian legend Sunil Gavaskar added: “He can but so far he hasn’t. His strike rate at the moment is just 50. He’s just managed two singles (from four balls).”
There were also some strange looks coming from the Rajasthan dugout.
The plan didn’t work for Samson, who was caught in the deep next ball and Punjab breathed a sigh of relief.
His call to back himself over Morris caused plenty of discussion in the aftermath. Writing for ESPNCricinfo, Sidharth Monga agreed with the controversial decision.
“Samson did the right thing and the end result should not change that at all,” Monga wrote.
“If Samson takes the single, he leaves Morris, who is not looking in great touch in his two off four balls, needing a four to tie the match. Royals are in this tight spot because Morris has missed a slot ball last ball of the penultimate over and then hit a full toss straight to extra cover for one in this over. Samson knows that he is likelier to hit a six than Morris is to hit a four.”
Former player turned broadcaster Sanjay Manjrekar tweeted: “Greater possibility of Samson hitting a six in that form than new batsman in Morris hitting a four. Right call by Samson to keep strike last ball I thought.”
Cricket journalist Ayaz Memon said Samson “should have trusted Morris”, while Black Cap Jimmy Neesham could see things from the Rajasthan star’s perspective.
“It’s whether you think Samson is more likely to hit a 6 than Morris is to hit 4 or 6. The way Samson was hitting it I can see why he would have confidence in himself,” Neesham tweeted.
“No wrong answer really.”
KL Rahul led the way for Punjab with 91 from 50 balls, while Deepak Hooda belted six sixes en route to 64 from 28 deliveries to set up an imposing total.
In reply, Samson (119 from 63) played a lone hand, the only Royals batsman to go past 25 as left-arm quick Singh did the damage with three wickets.