Published: Wed, May 09, 2018
Sports | By Sarah Myers

Rahul shines in Kings XI Punjab's win over Rajasthan Royals

Rahul shines in Kings XI Punjab's win over Rajasthan Royals

Fast-forward to two days and the script came a full circle on Tuesday as Ajinkya Rahane and his boys put up a spirited show and defended their total despite Rahul's herculean effort.

After being hammered by Punjab RR need to win all their remaining five matches to keep themselves alive in the cricket carnival.

The dream start was provided by Krishnappa Gowtham as the off-spinner sent back the unsafe Chris Gayle with the first ball of the third over. He read Chris Gayle's mind as the huge West Indian stepped out for a slog, fired the ball down the leg-side for Buttler to whip off the bails.

Ashwin went for an expansive drive in the second ball to be comprehensively bowled by Gowtham. Nair's dismissal at an individual score of 3 - when the scoreboard read 19/3 - meant Kings were in a spot of bother and the hosts smelled an opportunity. Whether skipper Ajinkya Rahane got out 5 runs.

Top scorer Jos Buttler (51) was outfoxed with a carrom ball and was caught behind before Mujeeb clean bowled Jofra Archer with a ideal googly off the next ball as Rajasthan lost its last six wickets for 52 runs.

On a night when his bowling changes in the Powerplay worked well, Ashwin targeted Royals' Achilles heel - their middle-overs batting.

On Sunday, Rahul was again in fine form but instead of adopting his usual attacking strategy, he opted for a more patient innings with Punjab chasing a tricky target.

By the end of 18th over, the required rate surged 23.5 an over which was almost impossible. He hit boundaries on either side of the keeper towards the end, including two reverse-sweeps off Unadkat, and jumped from 66 to 95 in the last two overs. Punjab can even take the second place if they win, provided they improve their NRR. Courtesy that win, they have now 12 points from nine matches and sit comfortably on third place.

Weather: There are warnings of a storm in several regions of Rajasthan, and it is likely that Sawai Mansingh Stadium can also witness one. After losing the toss, Rajasthan Royals came to bat first and made 152 runs by losing 9 wickets.

Jofra Archer's death bowling has been key to Rajasthan's successes in this tournament, but opener Rahul and Marcus Stoinis (23 not out) thrived when the fast bowler stepped up and edged nearer to victory.

However from there, Butter and Sanju Samson turned things around for the hosts.

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