A loss in this match would have made it difficult for Kings XI Punjab to stay in the race for the top four spot as KKR and SRH still have options of catching up as both teams have played lesser matches than Kings XI.
KKR have eight points from eight matches, while SRH are on six points from seven matches. The forlorn look on RR captain Rahane’s face in the last over of the match had its own tale to tell.
One would not be sure what was going in his mind, but perhaps he would have thought he had made a mistake in asking Kings XI to bat first on winning the toss or whether he had made the mistake of not opening the innings, a role that he has donned in the shorter versions of the game for India. As a versatile batsman, he came in at number four at the fall of Sanju Samson’s wicket with his team on 97 for two in 11.4 overs but could not gather the momentum to push through the chase.
Requiring 183 for a win in the allotted 20 overs, Rajasthan Royals ended up on 170 for seven with Stuart Binny making lusty hits towards the tail-end of the match but to no avail. Stuart had a massive strike rate of 300 scoring 33 runs off 11 balls with three sixes and two fours. Rahane perhaps would have been thinking that he should have sent Stuart up the order to make the chase a more viable position. But what was going through the mind of Rahane, he would now surely know that it would be an Herculean task to dream of making the last four cut. Opener Rahul Tripathi top scored for Rajasthan Royals with a polished 50 runs coming off 45 balls with five fours. Tripathi and other young middle order batsman Sanju Samson 59 runs for the third wicket with some diligent running between the wickets.
Earlier, Kings XI realised the significance of the proverb drops of water make an ocean as the top order batsman stitched together useful partnerships to give their team a realistic fighting target. Sent in to bat, Chris Gayle regaled the audience with his typical audacious hitting, scoring 30 runs of 22 balls with three sixes and two fours even as his opening partner K.L. Rahul played a sedate knock at the other end.
While Gayle and Rahul added 38 runs, the second wicket partnership between Rahul and Mayank Agarwal (both Karnataka teammates) yielded 29 runs. Mayank contributed 21 runs off 12 balls with two sixes and a four. Rahul and David Miller then added the highest partnership of the Kings XI innings – 85 runs with Rahul also opening up with aggressive strokes. The fall of Rahul saw Kings XI losing a spate of wickets in the slog overs, including that of David Miller.
The South African left-hander compiled 40 runs from 27 balls with two sixes and two fours. Just as the team appeared to be stuttering, Kings XI skipper Ravichandran Ashwin belted 17 runs off four balls, including two sixes and a four. This perhaps made the biggest difference in the end with Kings XI scoring a 12-run win in the end. Jofra Archer, who is set to become a new sensation of England bowling after honing his skills in West Indies, was the pick of Rajasthan Royals bowling as he conceded just 15 runs in his four overs and more significantly accounted for three Kings XI wickets.