Ravichandran Ashwin played a key role in leading Kings XI Punjab to w facile win over Rajasthan Royals at the IS Bindra Stadium at Mohali. There was the controversial ‘mankading’ of Jos Butler the last time the two sides met. This time though it was Ashwin’s contribution with the bat and the ball that secured the victory for the Punjab side.
When Ravi Ashwin came in to bat, Kings eleven had scored only twelve runs while losing three wickets in the previous three overs. Ashwin scored a four behind square on the off side off the first ball and got a single off the next. He pulled the next ball over mid-wicket for a six and scooped the last ball on the leg side for another maximum. It was this 17-off-4 cameo that took Kings XI to an impressive 182 for 6. Earlier Chris Gayle began in his characteristic style hitting Jaydev Unadkat for two sixes in the second over.
Jofra Archer got Chris Gayle (30 off 22 balls) when he got the Jamaican to thinly edge one to Sanju Samson behind the stumps. KL Rahul scored a tedious 47 ball 52 but it allowed other batsmen like Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal (26 off 12) and David Miller (40 off 27) to bat at a much faster pace around him. By the time Rahul was out in the eighteenth over Kings XI were 152 for three. The inning did stutter a bit as Jofra Archer claimed the two wickets of Mandeep Singh and Nicholas Pooran but Ashwin’s cameo saw the team finishing with a good score.
Rajasthan Royal’s Jos Butler (23 off 17) scored a 6 and 4 off debutant Arshdeep Singh’s second over. Nicholas Pooran took an excellent catch running back and around to take a skier from Butlers leading edge to give the young local lad Butler’s wicket in his next over. Although Rahul Tripathi scored 50 off 45 balls, his slow scoring rate was one of the reasons Rajasthan Royals lost the match. Unlike KL Rahul’s even slower fifty, Tripathi’s partners could not score at a fast rate and the asking rate kept on rising.
Ravichandran Ashwin and Murugan Ashwin further tightened the noose with their miserly bowling in the middle overs. While the former accounted for Sanju Samson (27 off 21) and Tripathi while conceding 24 runs from his four overs, his namesake got the wicket of Ashton Turner conceding the same number of runs. At the end of the seventeenth over in which Turner was out Rajasthan Royals were required to score at the rate of 16.66 runs per over to win the match. Mohammed Shami dismissed Jofra Archer caught by Rahul at long-on.
Stuart Binny provided a spark by scoring a brisk 33 runs off only 11 balls but wicket kept falling at the other end. Ajinkya Rahane (26 off 21) fell caught at third man off a slower ball by Arshdeep Singh while Mohammed Shami had Shreyas Gopal caught at long-off by Mayank Agarwal. Rajasthan Royals finished their twenty overs scoring 170 runs, still, 13 runs short of the target. This is the sixth loss for Royals in eight matches which puts them just one place ahead of the bottom-placed Royal Challengers Bangalore. Kings XI Punjab is back in the top four in the table having won five of their nine matches.