KL Rahul Mujeeb Ur Rahman mastermind KXIP win

KL Rahul allayed any middle-order woes that Kings XI Punjab might have had by anchoring a chase of 152 with a calculative unbeaten 84 off 54 against Rajasthan Royals at the Holkar Stadium in Indore. That peerless batting performance and another strong bowling show led by Mujeeb Ur Rahman (3 for 27) helped Punjab go up to third on the points table after nine games played and pushed the Royals into an unenviable corner from where they'd have to win each of their remaining games hereafter to stand a chance to qualify.



What was the pitch and the toss situation?



Of course, R Ashwin was happy to keep alive the rich tradition of winning toss and fielding, but Ajinkya Rahane's Rajasthan Royals weren't great conformists of the tradition themselves. The Royals had won only one of their last four chases and hence their captain wasn't overly despondent at having to bat first despite the overwhelming stat against defending teams in Indore - 0 wins from 7.



Interestingly, for a second game in a row, the pitch at the Holkar Stadium wasn't a score-all-you-want batting buffet. The short boundaries notwithstanding, teams admitted that a score around 170 was par for the course on a surface that held up occasionally and also offered spin.



Did Yuvraj Singh survive the axe?



No; 64 runs from five innings was not enough to convince the management for another game. Manoj Tiwary got his second start of the season. In the blue corner, Rajasthan brought medium pacer Anureet Singh for the expensive Dhawal Kulkarni.



How did Rajasthan end up with just 152?



In a sense, the Royals' innings was synonymous with the flows and ebbs of Jos Buttler's own effort at the top of the batting order. Allowed to retain his opening slot after his pyrotechnics, Buttler scored his second successive half-century (51 off 39). But his was an innings of two very distinct halves. He scored 22 off the first 12 balls faced, but went just over a run a ball thereafter, managing 29 off 27.



The timing of his dismissal, in the 15th over, merely seven balls after Stokes had fallen (to a fantastic team catch between Mayank Agarwal and Tiwary) denied Rajasthan the push they needed to make it a 175-plus total. Mujeeb then cleaned up Jofra Archer first up to finish with match-winning figures of 3 for 27. The Royals were headed to sub-150 target before Shreyas Gopal struck 24 from 16 to make a match out of it.



The tale of two Powerplays



Not particularly. But shrewdly, the KXIP captain bowled five overs of spin against members of the RR top order, all of whom enjoy pace on the ball. The spinners - Ashwin, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Axar Patel - gave away just 32 in the first five overs with only the Ankit Rajpoot over costing 13.



Rajasthan Royals looked the other way, bowling four overs of the fast stuff and bowled, if possible, an even better powerplay, conceding just 34 runs while prizing out Chris Gayle and Mayank Agarwal in the process.



The turning point in the chase...



... was the 15th over. KL Rahul had dropped anchor after the early loss of two wickets and shared a 50-run stand with Karun Nair, who was meant to be the aggressor. But with Nair and then Axar Patel falling in quick succession, the chase quickly went through the tricky phase. Fifty eight were needed off the final six when Unadkat returned to bowl. The cutter was deployed into action and Stoinis's outside edge was taken, but sadly for the Royals, the nick evaded Jos Buttler's outstretched arms. A couple of balls later, Stoinis pushed one to extra cover and gave up on his attempted single but captain Rahane missed the stumps to reprieve the batsman.



When the strike turned over, Rahul slashed Unadkat towards point where Sanju Samson dived to catch. With replays not entirely conclusive, the third umpire stayed with the soft-signal (not out) and allowed Rahul to continue. He was on 41 off 38 then.



Reprieved, Rahul went after Jofra Archer, slamming a six and a four in a 16-run over and repeated the feat in Unadkat's next to effectively seal the match. He finished unbeaten on 84 off 54.



Where do they go from here?



To Jaipur. Both teams will fly (presumably together) and square off in the return fixture on Tuesday(May 8). Another defeat there and Rajasthan Royals' season is, to put it mildly, done.



Brief scores: Rajasthan Royals 152/9 in 20 overs (Jos Buttler 51; Mujeeb Ur Rahman 3-27) lost to Kings XI Punjab 155/4 in 18.4 overs (KL Rahul 84*; K Gowtham 1-18) by six wickets.


image source:https://sports.ndtv.com

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