15 balls

When Punjab failed to score 10 runs from 15 balls with 8 wickets in hand

Let's talk about the last 15 balls of that Rajasthan win over Punjab. Mostly because they were funny. And great. And weird.

Chris Morris was bowling the 17th over, the most expensive auction buy in the IPL. And earlier he bowled so poorly it looked like he had the yips. Wides outside off, leg, and full tosses, at one stage I thought he'd just leave the field and not come back like a disgruntled club player. And he did leave the field, but just to change his shirt. You know you're going bad if you have to change your shirt to continue.

Morris' first three balls are a six that almost disappeared from orbit and two singles. The second single brought up their 50 partnership off 28 balls.

At this point, Punjab needed 10 from 15 with eight wickets in hand and two guys set and smoking hot.

Then something real weird happened, Morris got the yips again. He bowled another full toss, Aiden Markram ducked it, and it went below stumps high and only just missed bowling him.

And the last two balls of the Morris over were full tosses as well. The first was a low one that could easily have been a four. The last one was a high full toss that just dipped low enough to not be a no-ball, and surprised Nicholas Pooran so much that he only got a single off it. Morris really should have ended the match in this over, but not in a good way for the Royals. But the two batters were worried he was going to hit them on the head with a beamer, and somehow he got the balls low enough not to be called.

Punjab needed eight from 12.

Enter Mustafizur Rahman. A player who many people will be aware of I've been basically stalking. And I thought the early signs of the first half of the IPL were good that he had recovered from his shoulder problems enough to be a decent facsimile of when he was the best death bowler in the world. For Bangladesh he's even been better. He may not be what he once was, but he's clearly quite good.

The Fizz comes wide to Pooran in order to create a weird angle, he gets two dot balls. However, I thought both were either back foot no balls, or very close, and the umpire didn't seem to check either. I am not saying they were, but they should have been checked, and it's possible it happened and the TV crew didn't know. But at this point, the game still seemed over, so it's not like it felt that important.

But just think about this, in the last five balls bowled, while Punjab have needed 10 runs, there have been three full tosses and two potential no balls. They scored two runs from them, and really the game should have been over.

The next four balls from the Fizz are real good. He doesn't bowl the big cutters that made him famous, probably because this pitch won't spin, but he creates tough angles and neither Pooran or Markram can get near the middle of the bat. Markram is even dropped, and they scrape four singles to finish the over.

Punjab need four from six.

But before we get to the last over, let's rewind a bit. Both teams scored pretty big totals in this match. But something weird happened at the end of the Royals innings that made me think that Punjab should have gone a bit harder in their innings. In the last three overs, Rajasthan lost 17/5. And it felt a bit like the air went out of the ball. Which can happen in T20 sometimes. And at the time I thought, I wonder if that was just one of those things, or if hitting boundaries got tough and a bunch of wickets flowed.

I was thinking about this a lot, but when Pooran came in and smashed the ball around and Markram started hitting sixes, it didn't seem to matter. Especially as Morris couldn't hit the pitch. But when that stopped happening and the Fizz bowled his quality over, suddenly it all felt like they might be in more trouble than they looked.

Punjab needed four from six.

Kartik Tyagi came on, who had once done something pretty good at the end of an Indian U19 game. But before this he had bowled the last over twice in the IPL. The most recent one went for nine, which was ok, but the one before was 27 runs. That's obviously just 12 balls, but still, it's not ideal, is it.

The first ball from Tyagi was a full toss, and at the least, you'd assume a single, Markram found the fielder and there was no run.

Next ball Markram tries to finish it in one hit from a full ball but tanks it to square leg for a single. The next delivery, Pooran tries to run one off the face, which he did successfully, but straight to the keeper.

Punjab needed three from three.

Tyagi bowls a wide, but it's not called because the new batter - Deepak Hooda -  has moved across. I don't know how I feel about this, but it was a wide, even if that was the correct decision not to give it. I hope that makes sense, even if this game did not. Next ball he bowls another, Hooda doesn't move across as much, and gets an edge behind and is out.

Let's recap the last two balls, Tyagi has bowled two wides, and he has one wicket for no run.

Now Punjab needs three runs from one ball, and for the first time in 14 overs, they're underdogs. Tyagi goes wide, but legally so, and another new batter Fabian Allen misses it, and Tyagi delivers two wides and a full toss and yet goes for only one run in the over.

In the last 15 balls, we had four full tosses, two balls outside the wide line, two wickets, seven singles, potentially two back foot no balls, the batting team made seven runs and there was eight dot balls. Oh, and seven players were a part of this madness.

I mean, that is wonderfully strange. A proper mad crazy match of T20.  This lunacy puts them at six losses from nine games, a game and half behind Mumbai's fourth spot, and Rajasthan now too.

Early this season, their Punjab's captain's appendix burst; today their chances of making the finals might just have.