Rajasthan Royals repel KL Rahul’s royal charge


JAIPUR, May 9: Rajasthan Royals eked out a crucial win over Kings XI Punjab here on Tuesday to keep their faint hopes of qualifying for the IPL playoffs alive. Punjab, who were asked to chase a gettable 159, lost wickets at regular intervals to finish at 143 for 7 to lose the game by 15 runs.
In-form batsman KL Rahul waged a lone furrow for the visitors with a valiant and unbeaten 95 (70 balls, 11×4, 2×6). But he was left to do too much towards the end as the asking rate kept mounting. Marcus Stoinis was the only other Punjab batsman to reach doule fugures as the Royals bowling pack rose to the occasion to throttle the opponents.
Earlier, Jos Buttler once again showed just why the Royals should have opened with him from the word go in IPL-11. The Englishman cracked 82 from 58 balls as the hosts reached a below-par 158 for 8 in 20 overs, after being 96 for 2 at the end of 12 overs.
Opening with captain Ajinkya Rahane, Buttler hit nine fours and a wonderful six off Axar Patel, a heave between extra-cover and longoff, as he entertained a full house at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium.
The wicketkeeper-batsman and Rahane got the hosts off to a flyer, getting 11 off the first over bowled by Marcus Stoinis, 14 from the second off Patel and 10 from the Mohit Sharma-bowled third over, taking the score to 35 for no loss. The fact that Punjab captain R Ashwin had to bowl four different bowlers in the first four overs itself indicated the pressure Buttler had exerted.
It was Andrew Tye, bowling the fourth over of the innings, who changed things for Punjab as Rahane came down the track only to sky one to Akshdeep Nath at covers. K Gowtham came in next for Royals as a surprise weapon but could not last long. (TNN)