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IPL desk in Mumbai 07 April 2012 - 12:08am IST

Report: Match 4 – Rajasthan Royals v Kings XI Punjab

Rahane, Cooper star in 31-run win for Rajasthan Royals

 Rajasthan Royals brought much cheer to their home fans as they won their opening game of IPL 2012 by trouncing Kings XI Punjab by 31 runs at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium. Ajinkya Rahane (98) and Kevon Cooper (11 off three and four for 26) were the main architects of Rajasthan’s convincing win.

The toss was the only thing that went Punjab’s way during the course of the match. After captain Adam Gilchrist opted to field first, the visitors were put under the hammer by the Royals’ opening pair of Rahul Dravid and Rahane, who added 77 for the opening wicket in 9.3 overs. Dravid (28) was caught by James Faulkner when he tried to slash Harmeet Singh over the ropes past sweeper cover.

Ashok Menaria (0) and Brad Hodge (21 off 16) didn’t contribute much to the Royals’ score, but with Rahane dealing in boundaries (16x4, 1x6), Rajasthan maintained a good run-rate right through their innings. Rahane, though, disappointed the home fans as he got out on the cusp of bringing up his first IPL ton; the opener had his stumps shattered by a slower delivery from James Faulkner in the 20th over. However, Rahane’s 66-ball 98 and cameos from Owais Shah (14* off eight) and Kevon Cooper (11* off three) ensured that Rajasthan posted a competitive 191 for four in 20 overs.

Kings XI needed a good start from their openers – Gilchrist and Paul Valthaty – if they were going to chase down this score. And though Gilchrist was dropped by Siddharth Trivedi when he was on 13 in the third over, the Punjab captain couldn’t make the missed opportunity count as he was eventually dismissed by medium-pacer Amit Singh with the score at 36. Gilchrist made 27 off 18 balls.

Trinidad & Tobago all-rounder, Kevon Cooper, then ripped through the visiting team’s top order, sending back Valthaty (13), Shaun Marsh (7) and Abhishek Nayar (0) to reduce KXIP to 61 for four at the end of eight overs. Cooper even played a role in David Hussey’s dismissal when he caught the Australian at long-on off Siddharth Trivedi’s bowling in the 12th over.

Mandeep Singh, batting at No. 6 for KXIP, made a brave 25-ball 34. But with left-arm spinner Ankeet Chavan taking two wickets and Cooper adding a fourth – Piyush Chawla (10) – to his tally, KXIP were restricted to 160 for nine in 20 overs.

With the 31-run win under their belt, Rajasthan Royals have stormed to the top of the table in the IPL 2012 standings.

Scorecard

Man-of-the-match: Ajinkya Rahane for his sprightly 66-ball 98 that set Rajasthan up for a winning score.

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