Kings XI Punjab beat Rajasthan Royals. Kings XI Punjab finally breached the fortress of Rajasthan Royals but in controversial circumstances.
That is going to be debated long after the curtains come down on the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League in another seven weeks. The Punjab men beat the host by 14 runs – for the first time at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, where the Royals had never lost their opening fixture – but this game will forever be remembered for the way R. Ashwin ran Jos Buttler out.
RR vs KXIP – AS IT HAPPENED
The dashing opener was at the non-striking end and was out of his crease when the Kings XI captain, who was bowling the 13th over, knocked the bails off. The England batsman was looking in ominous touch at the time and seemed he would take his side home.
The Royals never could recover from the shock dismissal of Buttler (69, 43b, 10×4, 2×6). Their batsmen tried ambitious shots when a calm mind was required and lost seven wickets in 17 balls. From 148 for two, they slumped to 164 for nine, as Sam Curran and Mujeeb Ur Rahman kept their cool while bowled and they were backed up by some fine fielding as well.
Earlier, it was another masterly knock from Chris Gayle that was largely responsible for Punjab posting a challenging total to defend. After a sedate start, he began to resemble the Gayle the world loves and the bowlers fear, as he took apart the home attack to make 79 off 47 balls. Credit is also due for the splendid effort from Sarfaraz Khan, who made his maiden appearance for his new franchise count. His tournament-best score of 46 not out off 29 balls ensured that his team ended with a run-rate of above nine. When he arrived at the wicket, at the fall of the second wicket in the form of Mayank Agarwal, things were not exactly looking rosy for the Kings. The powerplay had yielded only 32 and the scoring rate hadn’t improved much, but his third wicket partnership of 84 with Gayle turned the innings around.
The West Indian, who came to this match after scoring 424 runs from four completed ODIs against England, was hit so hard that even an outside edge off Ben Stokes went for six. In the 12th over, bowled by Jayadev Unadkat, he slammed the first three balls for fours and then hit the fourth straight for a six.
Undadkat was like what he was at the auction: expensive. The left-arm seamer’s three overs cost him 44 runs. Jofra Archer, who bowled fast and straight, impressed yet again though, giving away just 17 from his four overs.
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