Ravi Ashwin continued to lead from the front as his all-round effort helped Kings XI Punjab overpower Rajasthan Royals by 12 runs in Mohali on Tuesday.
KXIP posted an above par 182-6, with Ashwin providing the boost right at the end with 17 off just four balls. Then with the ball, the off-spinner accounted for innings top scorer Rahul Tripathi and Sanju Samson, finishing with 2-24 off his four overs, as the visitors were restricted to 168-7.
Punjab thus moved into fourth spot with their fifth win while Rajasthan sunk to their sixth defeat, edging closer to the playoff exit.
KL’s strange knock
It is important to get your eye in as a batsman before going after the bowlers. But Kings XI opener KL Rahul took way too much time to get going. After 10 overs, Rahul was just 13 off 23 balls.
His slow start put pressure on other Kings XI batsmen to take more chances. Chris Gayle (30 off 22) edged an off cutter from Jofra Archer behind while Mayank Agarwal slog swept Ish Sodhi to long on for 26 off 12.
Just as he started to get going after reaching 50 off 44 balls, Rahul got caught at point at the start of the 18th over, which left too few deliveries for the remaining batsmen to aim for a 200-plus total.
Skipper Ashwin had to hit a four and two successive sixes in the final over from Dhawal Kulkarni to take the total past 180.
Archer’s day out
Jofra Archer has been outstanding again. Could light up the World Cup.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) April 16, 2019
Archer was in the thick of things the day before England’s World Cup squad was to be announced. He finished with an incredible 3-15 and took two catches. In fact, the Barbadian was involved in the first five wickets to fall.
Without him, Rajasthan would have faced a target above 200 for sure.
Rajasthan get bogged down
The pitch in Mohali was not the flattest one. Jos Buttler tried to target debutant left-arm quick Arshdeep Singh but top edged a slower one behind to be out for 23 off 17.
Samson just couldn’t get going and was bowled by a carom ball by Ashwin.
Tripathi played an identical knock to his KXIP namesake, labouring to 50 off 45. He fell at the end of the 16th over, getting caught off another carom ball from Ashwin as Rajasthan needed 56 off 24 balls. The game was out of the Royals’ grasp by then.
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