Rajasthan Royals 158-8 (Jos Buttler 82, Mujeeb ur Rahman 2-21, Andrew Tye 4-34) beat Kings XI Punjab 143-7 (KL Rahul 95*, K Gowtham 2-12) by 15 runs.
Rajasthan Royals lived to fight another day with a 15-run win over Kings XI Punjab as KL Rahul’s unbeaten 95, coming amidst a surprise batting meltdown, went in vain in the Indian Premier League in Jaipur on Tuesday.
Opting to bat in this must-win game, Rajasthan could only muster 158/8 despite Jos Buttler’s blazing 58-ball 82 at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium.
The home team, however, staged a strong fightback with the ball as it restricted Punjab to 143/7 in the stipulated 20 overs.
Languishing at the bottom of the table prior to this game, RR have now moved to sixth place, while KXIP remained in third position.
RR reduced Kings to 19/3 in the fourth over and the visitors struggled to recover from the horrendous start, as they soon found themselves stuttering at 45/4 and then 66/5, with eight overs left.
For Kings XI Punjab, Rahul played the lone ranger with 95 off 70 balls, his fourth half-century of the ongoing league. KXIP needed 32 runs in the last over and Rahul’s six and two fours were not enough.
The dream start was provided by Krishnappa Gowtham as the off-spinner sent back the dangerous Chris Gayle with the first ball of the third over. The spinner slid one down the leg side and Gayle charged down the wicket, only to be excellently stumped by Buttler.
The massive breakthrough spurred Royals and they soon had more reason to cheer as Gowtham removed KXIP skipper Ravichandran Ashwin, who had promoted himself up the order, two balls later.
Jofra Archer then got into the act as he had Karun Nair hitting one high in the air for Jaidev Unadkat to complete a well-judged catch.
Wickets kept falling and runs were to hard to come by but Rahul held fort, mixing caution with aggression with his team in a crisis situation.
Ish Sodhi bowled beautifully to not only take a wicket – of Akshdeep Nath – but also stymie the KXIP run rate. The New Zealand leg-spinner’s turning deliveries and variations had the legendary Shane Warne applauding from the dugout.
Earlier, Buttler led the way with a 82-run knock before the Punjab bowlers fought back.
Pacer Andrew Tye was the most successful KXIP bowler, returning figures of 4/34, while mystery spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman picked up 2/21 in four overs. Buttler began Royals’ innings in earnest, hitting Marcus Stoinis for two successive boundaries in the first over.
The Englishman looked in rampaging form as he smashed Axar Patel for a six over over extra cover before going inside out to collect a boundary.
Skipper Ajinkya Rahane was dismissed by Tye, who fooled the batsman with a knuckle ball, inducing an edge to extra cover. But Buttler continued his onslaught on the Rajasthan bowlers as he picked two consecutive boundaries off Tye.
Gowtham, too, fell quickly as he was sent back by Stoinis in the seventh over. A half-century partnership then ensued between Buttler and the talented Sanju Samson (22) but the run rate dropped as the Royals batsmen, including the Englishman, struggled to find the boundaries.
After the brisk start, there was a period in the middle overs when Rajasthan failed to hit a boundary for 25 balls. Buttler finally managed a boundary off Mujeeb Ur Rahman and then got a four off the bowling of Axar, thanks to poor fielding by Tye.
But that was it as RR again went without a boundary for 14 deliveries before Samson produced a flat-batted six off Ravichandran Ashiwn, sending the ball over long-off.
Samson brought up the fifty partnership by playing Ashwin for another boundary, but Mujeeb struck for Kings XI Punjab when he dismissed the Kerala batsman.
Finally, Buttler’s innings came to an end when Mujeeb had him stumped with Royals’ score reading 132/4 in the 17th over. He stuck nine fours and a six. Stuart Binny hit Tye for a six but Rajasthan simply lost their way after a flying start.
Man of the Match: Jos Buttler, for his 82, the leg-side stumping of Gayle.