New Delhi: Rarely would have Gautam Gambhir bet on pacers Avesh Khan and Liam Plunkett to do the job against Punjab. But little did he know that he won a good toss on a two-paced wicket at the Ferozeshah Kotla. Avesh's height and the pace was always going to trouble the batters with inconsistent pace off the wicket. England seamer Plunkett brought in experience and kept it tight on length and mixed his variations really well. What the duo did in the context of the match was telling as they both shared five wickets between them to time and again derail Punjab.
The case in the point is the length here. Plunkett was just hitting slightly back of good length and was inviting the batsmen to go for the pull. He got KL Rahul as he cramped him for space and his top edge was pouched brilliantly at short fine-leg by Avesh. Not just his bowling, Avesh registered his name in the list of few pacers of the world who show athleticism in the field as well and pluck catches by diving forward.
Four overs later, Mayank Agarwal, who was set on 21, desperately chose the wrong length off Plunkett and his attempt for the pull cost him dear. The biggest wicket for Plunkett would definitely be of Karun Nair, who was set on 34 and looked to take Punjab out of troubled waters. In the 16th over, Plunkett rolled his fingers over the ball to bring his pace down and Nair just holed it on long-on.
Avesh though was short on experience and did not vary his bowing, but he certainly picked two important wickets to consistently pushed Punjab on the wall. He first surprised Aaron Finch with his serious pace, who was slow on the pull and miscued one to cover. Later, it was Yuvraj in the 13th over, who chose the wrong length, just like Agarwal, to execute the pull and only found the ball kissing the inner edge of his blade.
While Finch got out early, wickets of Yuvraj and Nair will certainly rankle Punjab as a flourishing partnership was broken and it wouldn't have been easy for the new batsmen to force the pace.