The Kings must be thrilled to reach the top four halfway through the tournament beating Rajasthan Royals a second time in this season. The Kings seemed to be losing it at the moment but the middle over bowling and explosive batting at death helped them win the battle against Rajasthan Royals.
Losing the toss batting first, the Kings started slowly and lost mighty Chris Gayle for 30 out of the team total of 38 in the 6th over. Mayank Agarwal tried to up the run-rate but he too perished in 9th over for 26. David Miller joined KL Rahul for an 85 run partnership in about 9 overs. The Kings had a mini-collapse in the end from 2 for 152 to 6 for 164. But captain R Ashwin's 4 balls 17 took the Kings to 182.
Defending 182 the Kings leaked runs in the first half. At one stage the Royals were about a hundred in 12th over. Needing 85 off 48 the Kings looked in trouble but both the Ashwin’s kept them in the game in the middle overs and suddenly the Royals needed 50 off 3 overs. The kings did not let the game slip off from there even though Stuart Binny hit some lusty blows.
KL Rahul top-scored for the kings with yet another half-century. David Millers score 40 with a strike rate of about 150. Mayank Agarwal and R Ashwin scored quick 26 and 17, respectively, to help the Kings reach 182. R Ashwin starred with the ball as well picking up 2 for 24 in 4 overs. Shami and Arshdeep Singh took 2 wickets as well but both were expensive. M Ashwin’s 1 for 24 in 4 overs helped contain the Royals just enough to get a win.
Rajasthan Royals and their middle order batting lineup have once again messed up the good work done at the top of the order. As a result, they lost a match that they should have won given the start they had. The RR's search for the third win of the season continues.
Winning the toss deciding to field first, Rajasthan Royals did not allow KXIP openers to fire away. Archer removed Chris Gayle in the sixth over. Although Mayank Agarwal succeeded in pushing the run-rate up the Kings kept Rahul quite at one end. The Royals kept at it when David Miller and KL Rahul were involved in a big partnership in the middle part of the innings. The kings looked set to launch in the final few overs but Archer removed Pooran and Mandeep Singh to suck the momentum out of Kings batting at the death. However, they could not stop captain R Ashwin’s to score freely at the end of the innings conceding 18 runs in the last that pushed KXIP score to 182.
Royals started brilliantly in the chase reaching 54 at the loss of just wicket in the powerplay. Then Samson and Tripathi took them near 100 in the 12th over. The stage looked set for RR to go for the win but they sent in Ajinyka Rahane instead of power hitters. That proved fatal. Eventually, they needed 50 of just 18 deliveries. Even Binny’s 3 sixes and 2 fours in 11 balls could not save them as RR fell short by 12 runs.
Jofra Archer was the peak of the bowlers picking up 3 crucial wickets including that of Chris Gayle. More importantly, he went for just 15 runs in 4 overs. Kulkarni, Unadkat and Ish Sodhi picked up one wicket each. However, Sodhi and Unadkat were expensive as they went for more than 10 an over. Rahul Tripathi top scored with 50 whereas Rahane, Samson, and Buttler scored in the 20s. Binny's quickfire 33 gave them hope but it was too little too late.
Kings XI Punjab will play the Delhi Capitals next on 20th April 2019. The kings must be confident after entering into the top four teams of the tournament at the halfway stage. However, it would take some efforts from the Kings to stop the Delhi juggernaut, especially at Firoz Shah Kotla. The must be banking on KL Rahul and Chris Gayle to fire against Delhi.
Rajasthan Royals will play Mumbai Indians at home on 20th April 2019. Questions have been raised about their batting line up and also about Rahane's role in the team. Being a captain Rahane would be keen to prove his critics wrong. A lot depends on what changes RR makes in the batting lineup to make it perform better.
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