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IPL' 18: Rahul's quickfire 84 storms Punjab to huge win

ANI | Updated: May 07, 2018 01:09 IST

Indore (Madhya Pradesh) [India], May 7 (ANI): A stunning innings from opener K.L. Rahul helped Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) to beat Rajasthan Royals (RR) by six wickets and further enhance their chances to their playoffs at the Holkar Stadium here on Sunday.
Chasing 153 to win, Rajasthan's pacer bowlers Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes scalped dangerman Chris Gayle (8) and Mayank Agarwal (2) in successive overs to leave Punjab at 29 for 2 in less than five overs.
Rahul and Karun Nair (31) then stabilised the innings, with former playing the role of an aggressor.
Nair was then bowled by Anureet Singh and Axar Patel (4) followed suit thereafter to leave Punjab in a spot of bother at 87 for 4.
It was then Rahul took center stage and started smashing all the Rajasthan bowlers out of the park. None of them could found a way to dismiss the swashbuckling opener as he clobbered seven fours and three sixes during his 54-ball innings.
Marcus Stonis (23* off 16 balls) too supported Rahul as he too hit a maximum and two fours during the 68-run partnership between the duo.
For Rajasthan, Krishnappa Gowtham (1 for 18) and Jaydev Unadkat (0 for 26) were the most economical bowlers, while the remaining others were too expensive.
Earlier, Punjab won the toss and put Rajasthan to bat first.
The 2008 champions lost D'Arcy Short (2) right in the beginning of the innings when he tried to take on skipper Ravichandran Ashwin, only to top edge and give Andrew Tye a simple catch at square leg region.
Skipper Ajinkya Rahane (5) too continued his poor form with the bat as he departed soon after.
Jos Butler (51) and Sanju Samson (28) then steadied the innings and kept the scoreboard ticking. Butler played the aggressor role as he smashed boundaries after boundaries, in a bid to give Rajasthan a competitive score on board.
Afghan teen sensation, Mujeeb Ur Rahman then came into the attack and scalped Butler's wicket.
Stokes (12), who has not fired in this year's tournament so far, was almost on a destructive mode when he smacked a Mujeeb delivery down the ground, where Mayank Agarwal took the catch before losing his balance and touched the boundary rope. In the process, he threw the ball towards Manoj Tiwary, who took an easy relay catch to send the dangerous Englishman back.
Thereafter, Rajasthan soon lost momentum to their innings as Mujeeb bowled tight lines and unreadable googlies to leave the batsmen baffled, coupled with the falling of cluster of wickets.
Shreyas Gopal (24) then slammed three boundaries in the death overs, as he helped the 2008 champions to cross the 150 run mark before he was run-out in the penultimate ball of the 20th over.
Mujeeb was the Man of the Match for his brilliant bowling figures of 3 for 27.
With this win, Punjab gained two more points to move up to the third position, while Rajasthan suffered their sixth loss in nine matches and are languishing in the last position.
In the first match earlier, Mumbai Indians (MI) registered a crucial win where Suryakumar Yadav's successive half-century and an all-round performance from Hardik Pandya powered Mumbai Indians to a 13-run win over Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), keeping them alive for play-offs contention.
Yadav continued his rich run in the current season of Indian Premier League (IPL) with a fourth fifty of the tournament before Pandya (35* off 20) plundered the KKR attack to nudge the hosts to 181 for four.
Yadav's opening partner Evin Lewis (45 off 28) too made a valuable contribution in the 91-run stand.
KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik (36* off 26) tried his best to get the two-time champions over the line but was unable to do so in the end.
Mumbai have now won four matches and are at the fifth position, while Kolkata slumped down to the fourth position after losing five matches.
On Monday, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) will take over on Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad, in what would be a crucial match for the former to gain two valuable points and keep their chances open for the playoffs. (ANI)