Kings XI Punjab on Tuesday showcased the team effort to climb back into the top half of the IPL 2019 standings after beating the Rajasthan Royals by 12 runs.
Batting first KXIP had put 182-6 runs on the board with KL Rahul’s 52 and Miller’s 40-runs knock respectively. Then in the second half, their spinners strangled the visitors in the middle overs; the Royals could only get as far as 170-7.
While it was business as usual for Chris Gayle, who hit three sixes and two boundaries in his 22-ball 30, KL Rahul batted on first gear for a long time – as if constructing an innings. The hosts didn’t feel the pressure of Rahul’s slow start, thanks also to Mayank Agarwal’s cameo (26 from 12 balls).
It was a little after Agarwal’s dismissal in the ninth over that Rahul eventually switched gears. He and David Miller, who was summoned into the playing XI after a last-minute injury to Moises Henriques, added 85 runs in 8.3 overs. After they were dismissed, the KXIP captain Ravichandran Ashwin provided the innings the flourish in the last over.
For the Rajasthan Royals, Jofra Archer (3 for 15) was the pick of the bowlers, while Dhawal Kulkarni, Jaydev Unadkat and Ish Sodhi chipped in with a wicket each.
In their chase, the Royals too had several of their batsmen get off to starts, but not one of them made the runs quick-enough early on, and not one of them batted long enough to carry the team over the line.
Possibly because of the steep required rate, the Royals changed their opening pair and sent Jos Buttler and Rahul Tripathi at the top of the innings. The former struck a boundary and two sixes in his 23 before he was dismissed at the start of the fifth over. Tripathi batted on till the 16th over, but he couldn’t switch gears; he was dismissed immediately after he’d brought up his half-century. Sanju Samson (27 from 21 balls) and Ajinkya Rahane (26 from 21 balls) made useful scores in the middle-order, while Stuart Binny’s cameo – 31* from 11 balls – gave the Royals late hope. Though the Royals were 12 runs ahead of KXIP at the 13-overs mark, they still finished short.