Royals cruise to easy win over Punjab
The Rajasthan Royals, led by a typical 59 not out off 49 balls by Ajinkya Rahane, comfortably beat the Kings XI Punjab by eight wickets in their IPL clash at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium on Thursday.
Full Scoring: Punjab v Rajasthan
Rahane added an undefeated 76 with Sanju Samson (47 not out) as they romped home with an over to spare, after a fine bowling performance had kept the home side to just 145 for six earlier.
Having opted to bowl first, the Royals struck in the very first over by Ajith Chandila, and put the skids on a Punjabi innings that promised much when Adam Gilchrist (42) and Shaun Marsh (77 off 64 balls) added 102 for the second wicket.
Gilchrist was ousted by Kevon Cooper's slower ball, but he wasn't to be the only Punjab batsman to be flummoxed by the seamer. Cooper struck twice in the 19th over, which yielded just three runs for the home side, and also saw the massive wickets of David Miller (eight) and Marsh fall, also to changes of pace.
Marsh was scintillating at times, his two sixes and six boundaries giving the Punjab innings real momentum. He was dropped by Rahul Dravid on 73, but didn't last much longer as the Kings XI failed to register a single boundary in the last four overs.
Cooper, with 3-23 in four overs, was the pick of the bowlers for the Royals, as his clever slower balls kept the big-hitting Punjab middle-order in check.
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In reply, the Royals also lost an early wicket, but Shane Watson (31) and Rahane added 66 for the second wicket to put the match beyond Punjab's reach. Rahane clubbed three sixes and as many fours, as he blew the Kings XI away with a clinical display of controlled aggression.
When Watson fell to the guile of Piyush Chawla, Samson picked up where he had left off, as the Royals, champions in 2008, just about sealed their position in the four-team playoffs.
For the Kings XI Punjab, every one of their last four matches is now a must-win as they try to squeak into the final four through the back door.
KINGS XI PUNJAB: Adam Gilchrist (capt & wk), Mandeep Singh, Shaun Marsh, David Hussey, R Sathish, David Miller, Bipul Sharma, P Chawla, Praveen Kumar, M Gony, P Awana.
RAJASTHAN ROYALS: Rahul Dravid (capt), A Rahane, Shane Watson, S Samson, Brad Hodge, D Yagnik (wk), James Faulkner, A Chandila, S Trivedi, Kevon Cooper, S Sreesanth.