IPL 2018: KL Rahul and Chris Gayle crush KKR bowlers as Kings XI Punjab rise to top of the table

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Gayle and Rahul added 116 runs for the opening wicket in Kolkata. Image: BCCI.

Kings XI Punjab continued their fine start to the IPL with a nine-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens on Saturday.

Batting first, Kolkata posted what looked like a competitive 191 for seven. But Punjab’s in-form openers KL Rahul (60) and Chris Gayle (62 not out) annihilated the Knight Riders bowling attack to set up a comfortable win in 11.1 overs after rain reduced the second innings to a 13-over affair.

Here are the talking points from the match in Kolkata on Saturday that saw Punjab rise to the top of the table with their fourth win out of five matches after reaching 126 for the loss of one wicket inside 12 overs.

LYNN PRODUCES HIS BEST KNOCK SO FAR

Australian batsman Chris Lynn hadn’t been at his fluent best in the IPL. But he got going at the Eden Gardens with a knock of 74 from 41 balls that included six fours and four sixes to lay the foundation of a solid score.

Opener Sunil Narine failed with the bat, dismissed by Afghanistan spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman for one, but Gayle teamed up with one-down batsman Robin Uthappa (34) to steady the ship before adding 62 with captain Dinesh Karthik (43 off 28 balls) to help post a challenging score.

SPINNERS AND TYE LIMIT THE DAMAGE

While Punjab seamers Barinder Sran (2-50) and Ankit Rajpoot (o-32 from three) were torn apart, spinners Ravi Ashwin (1-33), Mujeeb (1-32) and quick Andrew Tye (2-30) contained the opposition. Their full quota of overs made up for an off day for other seamers and ensured Punjab’s batsmen chased a target under 200 and not above it.

PUNJAB OPENERS IN A HURRY

Punjab’s Rahul and Gayle have a point to prove this season. While the India batsman hopes to send a signal to the national management to bat him higher up the order in limited overs cricket, the Jamaican wants to show he is not a spent force in T20 cricket.

After registering the first century of this IPL, Gayle saw Punjab home with another entertaining knock – 62 from 38 balls with five fours and six sixes. His partner Rahul was even more attacking, smashing 60 from just 29 deliveries with nine hits to the fence and two maximums. The two added 116 runs for the opening either side of a rain delay that sealed victory.

RUSSELL INJURY

Andre Russell injured his right leg on Saturday. Image: BCCI.

Andre Russell injured his right leg on Saturday. Image: BCCI.

Not only did Kolkata lose the match comprehensively, they now have to contend with a possible injury to talismanic all-rounder Andre Russell. Opening the bowling, Russell bowled 1.5 overs before walking off the ground clutching his right thigh.

Russell entered the tournament having barely recovered from a hamstring injury and given how crucial he is with the bat and the new ball for Kolkata, his injury will give Karthik some major headaches.

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IPL 2018: Shane Watson torments his former employers and other taking points as Chennai Super Kings hand Rajasthan a 'royal' thrashing

Ashish Peter 20/04/2018
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Watson came to the party with an explosive ton. Image - IPL/Twitter.

Chennai Super Kings began life at their new ‘home’ in Pune with a comprehensive thrashing of the Rajasthan Royals.

MS Dhoni’s men moved to the top of the IPL table with a 64-run win over the visitors as they garnered their third victory in four games.

After Rajasthan won the toss and elected to field first, Chennai put on an impressive show with the bat to post 204-5 in their 20 overs. In reply, the Royals were bowled out for 140.

Here, we look at the key talking points from Chennai’s win.

TRIPATHI’S EXPENSIVE DROPS

Shane Watson holds a special place in the hearts of the Rajasthan Royals fans for his man-of-the-tournament performance in the franchise’s fairytale triumph in the inaugural IPL edition in 2008.

Now with the Chennai Super Kings, the Australian all-rounder was given a mighty helping hand from his former employers at the start of his innings.

First, Stuart Binny overstepped the mark to allow Watson a free-hit to settle down the nerves, one which the Aussie grabbed with both hands as he hit the bowler straight over his head for a boundary.

Then, Rahul Triphathi dropped a sitter at first slip after Binny had found Watson’s outside edge. Tripathi was on the radar again in the next over as he dropped Watson once again, this time at point. However, it was a much tougher chance than the previous one with Tripathi just about managing to get one hand on the ball.

WATSON TORMENTS ROYALS

Those two reprieves early on by Tripathi seemed to spur on Watson and he made his former employers pay dearly on a magnificent batting track. The 36-year-old has had a quite start to his Super Kings career but Friday’s knock will go a long way in reminding the IPL of the Aussie’s ability.

The powerful Aussie made full use of his broad shoulders as he continued to muscle the ball over the boundary ropes with remarkable ease.

He was equally effective against both seamers and spinners alike as he brought up his first fifty for the Super Kings in just 28 balls with a huge six off K Gowtham. It was Watson’s 15th half-century in IPL history.

The Aussie’s unending assault on the Royals’ bowlers meant that Chennai were always cruising above 10 runs an over during his long stay.

SHREYAS GOPAL SHINES AMONGST RAJASTHAN’S RUBBLES

While Chennai Super Kings did manage to score the 200-run mark, it could have been a whole lot worse for the Royals if not for an inspired spell by Shreyas Gopal.

The young left-spinner seemed to be oblivious to the thrashing being handed out to his fellow bowlers as he turned in an economical spell while picking up a handful of wickets.

Gopal captured the wickets of Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni and Sam Billings while conceding only 20 runs in his four overs.

His economy-rate of five was in stark contrast to the rest of his team-mates who all went over 9.7 runs per over at least. However, rather than being a performance to savour, Gopal’s sublime display only turned out to serve as a reminder of how woeful Rajasthan’s bowlers had been on the day.

CHAHAR EXTINGUISHES ROYALS’ HOPES QUICKLY

If it was a former player who did the damage with the bat against the Royals on Friday, it was a Rajasthan-based player who caused destruction with the ball.

Deepak Chahar has been the leader of Rajasthan’s pace attack in the Ranji Trophy but wasn’t picked by the franchise in the IPL auction. In the end, Royals’ loss turned out to be Chennai’s gain as Chahar’s spell at the start of Rajasthan’s chase spelled the end for the visitors’ hopes.

While he had Heinrich Klaasen dropped by Watson off the very first ball, Chahar made full use of the swinging ball under lights as he dismissed the dangerous Sanju Samson and skipper Ajinkya Rahane within the powerplay itself.

Bowling his four overs on the trot, the 25-year-old pacer finished with figures of 2-30 and by the time he was done, the Royals had been left with a humongous mountain to climb.

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IPL 2018: Shane Watson slams second century of the tournament as Rajasthan Royals are made to pay

Ashish Peter 20/04/2018
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Watson slammed a 51-ball hundred at Pune. Image - IPL/Twitter.

Shane Watson slammed the second ton of the 2018 edition of the IPL as Chennai Super Kings turned on the heat on Rajasthan Royals at Pune on Friday.

Playing in the new ‘home’ at the Dahunje stadium, MS Dhoni’s Super Kings were put into bat after Ajinkya Rahane won the toss for Rajasthan Royals.

Opening the innings for Chennai, Watson was given a huge reprieve in the very first over after Rahul Tripathi dropped a sitter of a catch at first slip off the bowling off Stuart Binny.

The Super Kings opener went on to make the most of his reprieve as he made the Royals’ bowling attack pay dearly.

The former Rajasthan Royals player made full use of the enormous powers in his shoulders as he muscled the ball to all parts of the ground in destructive fashion.

Bringing up his first fifty for the Chennai franchise with a huge six off K Gowtham, Watson never took his foot off the pedal as the Royals’ bowling attack was taken to the cleaners at the Dahunje stadium.

With the help of nine boundaries and four sixes, the Australian all-rounder brought up his third IPL century with a single in the 18th over of the innings.

The 38-year-old’s century comes just a day after Chris Gayle had notched up a destructive hundred in Kings XI Punjab’s win over Sunrisers Hyderabad at Mohali on Thursday.

Watson was dismissed off the penultimate ball for 106 (57) as Chennai Super Kings put up a huge total of 204-5 in their 20 overs.

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