Rajasthan Royals chased down a massive total second game running as they defeated Kings XI Punjab by seven wickets at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi on Friday. With this win Rajasthan Royals halted KXIP’s five-match winning streak and also kept themselves alive in the playoff race. Chasing 186 to win, Ben Stokes carried his form from the previous game and gave his an explosive start. The England all-rounder became the second batsman this season to complete his fifty inside the Powerplay. However, he couldn’t carry on for long and departed in the sixth over after scoring 50 off just 26 balls but not before laying a solid foundation for a brilliant chase. Robin Uthappa and Sanju Samson then added 51 runs off just 32 balls to push KXIP bowlers further on the backfoot.
Samson, in particular, took charge of the innings and batted with great intent. Murugan Ashwin broke the partnership in the 11th over as he removed Uthappa, who got out after scoring 30 off 23 balls. Samson kept playing his natural game and didn’t allow KXIP bowlers to take control. However, he was unlucky to get run out when with just two short of what could have been a well-deserved half-century.
Rajasthan Royals skipper Steve Smith (31 off 20) and Jos Buttler (22 off 11 balls) continued to attack and finished the game with 15 balls left. They scored last 41 runs off just 19 balls to give RR a comfortable seven-wicket victory.
With dew settling in so early in the second innings, it became very difficult for KXIP bowlers to grip the ball, which affected their line and length. Mohammed Shami, who has been leading KXIP’s fast bowling attack this season, gave away 36 runs in his three overs. Other two pacers Chris Jordan and Arshdeep Singh also failed to stop the run flow.
Arshdeep went wicketless in his three overs and conceded 34 runs, while Chris Jordan managed to pick one wicket but was the most expensive KXIP bowler, returning with figures of 1/44 off his 3.3 overs.
The only shining light in the bowling department for KXIP was young leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi who somewhat managed to keep the runs under check, conceding only 27 runs in his four-over spell.
Earlier, Rajasthan Royals skipper Steve Smith won the toss and invited Kings XI Punjab to bat. Jofra Archer removed Mandeep Singh for a golden duck with a vicious bouncer, with Stokes pulling off a great catch just inches above the ground, running in from backward point.
KL Rahul and Chris Gayle then stitched a 120-run stand for the second wicket to put KXIP on course for a big total. Rahul missed his half-century by just four runs as he holed out to Rahul Tewatia in the deep.
Gayle kept going and smashed his way to 99 before being cleaned up by Archer. The West Indian smashed eight maximums and, in the process, became the first batsman to hit 1000 sixes in T20 cricket.
Gayle and Rahul’s partnership along with a cameo from Nicholas Pooran helped KXIP to 185/4 from their allotted 20 overs.
Archer and Ben Stokes picked up two wickets apiece. KXIP’s last league game is against Chennai Super Kings on Sunday while Rajasthan will play Kolkata Knight Riders on the same day.
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