Kings XI Punjab registered their sixth win of VIVO IPL 2018 when they defeated the Rajasthan Royals by 6 wickets on Sunday night. At their adopted home ground – Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore, KXIP won the toss, opted to field, and restricted the visitors to 152-9. KL Rahul’s unbeaten half-century, and useful contributions from Karun Nair and Marcus Stoinis helped the home teams all past the finish line in the 19th over.
The hosts lost two wickets early but recovered through a partnership between Rahul and Karun Nair. KXIP slipped briefly yet again when Karun and Axar Patel (sent to bat at number five) were dismissed within two overs. Rahul then took charge, and in the company of Stoinis guided his team home; the fifth wicket pair were involved in an unbeaten 68-run partnership.
For RR, the wickets were shared by four bowlers. K Gowtham would be the most economical bowler, returning figures of 3-0-18-1. Jofra Archer successfully set up and dismissed Gayle, but was taken for runs otherwise; he conceded 43 runs in his 3.4 overs. Anureet Singh and Ben Stokes picked up a wicket each. Jaydev Unadkat, who has had a difficult tournament, bowled three good overs (conceding 11 runs), but was taken for 15 runs in his final over.
Earlier in the evening, the Royals rode on Jos Buttler’s half-century to get to 152-9. The English opener created his own opportunities to score runs, was quick off the blocks and helped himself to his second half-century in two innings. He kept losing partners at the other end as several of his teammates were dismissed for low scores. Sanju Samson, batting at four, made 28 from 23 balls before he picked out deep square-leg, while Shreyas Gopal, batting at nine, contributed an unbeaten 24 (made from 16 balls). There were only two partnerships of note in the RR innings; Buttler dominated the 32-run second-wicket partnership with Ajinkya Rahane, and then added 49 with Samson for the third wicket.
Among the KXIP bowlers, Mujeeb ur Rahman and Andrew Tye returned five wickets between them, while Axar returned the most economical bowler, conceding only 21 runs in his four overs. Ankit Rajpoot and Ravichandran Ashwin chipped in with a wicket each.
Stand out batting performance
After losing his opening partner Chris Gayle, and Mayank Agarwal very early in the innings, KL Rahul dropped anchor and took it upon him to finish the job. The Karnataka batsman was 18 from 15 at the end of the first six overs and batted pretty much in second gear until the very end.
KXIP needed 43 off the last four overs. That’s when Rahul switched gears. The fourth ball of the sixteenth, he upper cut a short delivery from Archer – in the process bringing up his half-century too. In the following over, he hit a flat six off Jaydev Unadkat, and followed that up by making room and flaying the ball through the point region. In the nineteenth, Rahul feasted on the pace of Archer yet again; he first got under a 147kph length ball and hit it straight over the bowler’s head and into the sightscreen. One ball later, he drove one into the extra cover boundary. Rahul finished unbeaten on 84 – his highest score in the IPL; his knock contained seven fours and three sixes.
Earlier in the evening, RR’s Jos Buttler was quick off the blocks, collecting five boundaries in the first three overs. His second scoring stroke of the innings was a cover drive off Ravichandran Ashwin. In the next over, he hit Ankit Rajpoot for three boundaries – pull shots to midwicket twice and cut to send the ball to the point boundary. In the following over, he made room for himself and drove Mujeeb through extra cover. The RR opener, 29 from 20 at the end of six overs, slowed down thereafter; he would go on to make 51 from 39 balls, before edging a Mujeeb delivery to the wicket-keeper.
Notable Support Act – Batting
Karun Nair contributed a useful 31 in the middle overs for KXIP; his 23-ball knock contained two fours and as many sixes. He was timing the ball brilliantly and looked good for a big score, until he attempted to pull a short delivery – which was wide outside off stump, but only managed to drag the ball back onto his stumps.
Marcus Stoinis played a useful hand at the end; he walked out to bat in the thirteenth over, and announced himself in the following over by hitting the leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal out of the ground. He collected two boundaries in his 16-ball inning: one an outside edge off Unadkat in the fifteenth over, and then a boundary through extra cover off the bowling of Archer. Stoinis remained unbeaten on 23.
Stand out bowling performance
Mujeeb ur Rahman returned career-best figures of 3-27 and would be the home team’s best bowler in the match. The Mystery spinner from Afghanistan opened his tally with the wicket of Ben Stokes, who was at the receiving end of a relay catch at long-off. He then had the well-set Buttler edging one to wicket-keeper, and castled Archer the very next ball. The 17-year old bowled a good number of deliveries which would have gone on to hit the stumps and seldom gave batsmen room; even the three boundaries he conceded were shots created by batsmen.
Andrew Tye varied his lengths and pace regularly, kept the batsmen guessing all the time, and got away with economical figures of 2-24. His scalps were Sanju Samson (caught on the square-leg boundary) and Rahul Tripathi (deceived by slower delivery and caught at mid-off).
Stat of the Match
The Rajasthan Royals batsmen scored 58 runs through running the singles in their innings.
Rahul was 42 from 39 balls at the end of 15 overs. In the following 3.4 overs, he had scored 42 runs off 15 balls!
Rajasthan Royals 152-9 (Jos Buttler 51, Sanju Samson 28, Mujeeb ur Rahman 3-27, Andrew Tye 2-24) lost to Kings XI Punjab 155-4 in 18.4 overs (KL Rahul 84*, Karun Nair 31) by 6 wickets.
Man of the Match:
Mujeeb ur Rahman, for his bowling spell of 4-0-27-3.