Rajasthan Royals stay alive in the competition with this victory © IANS
Rajasthan Royals stay alive in the competition with this victory © IANS

Match 40 of ongoing VIVO IPL 2018 saw Rajasthan Royals (RR) settle scores with Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) with a 15-run victory at Jaipur. Defending 159, RR couldn’t prevent Rahul from scoring 95 not out and claiming the Orange Cap, but made sure he never got company. Rahul batted without support, and KXIP meandered to 143 for 7. Earlier, RR posted 158 for 8 courtesy Jos Buttler’s 82, but the victory was set up by their collective bowling effort.

Chasing 159, KXIP  were off to a poor start. Chris Gayle flopped for the second consecutive time. He was smartly stumped by Buttler, off Krishnappa Gowtham, who had darted a wide down leg. Ravichandran Ashwin, already having garnered praise for his unpredictable leadership, perhaps went overboard today by promoting himself to No. 3. He went for a big shot against the turn two balls later and was bowled. Gowtham delivered once again.

Karun Nair, debutant Akshdeep Nath, Manoj Tiwary and Akshar Patel failed to get into double digits. There were several soft dismissals at crucial intervals. Rahane rotated his bowlers, and the fielders looked charged charged up. The pressure mounted on Rahul, who never found a platform to go for the big hits. Ish Sodhi’s 4 overs changed the course of the chase. He kept things tight, varied his speed, and bowled with impeccable accuracy. He was rewarded with the wicket of Nath.

Much was expected of Tiwary, who offered a dolly to Rahane at short cover. Marcus Stoinis, coming after Akshar, looked to replicate Sunday’s performance in the reverse fixture at Indore. By then Rahul had notched up a composed fifty with well-crafted shots. He pushed the game till the end perhaps in an order to maximise the net run rate, and registered his highest IPL score.

However, Rahul’s stay couldn’t do anything significant for KXIP. especially Jofra Archer and Jaydev Unadkat, pushed the asking rate out of reach with accurate death bowling. RR stay in the hunt for the Playoffs with this spirited win. They have climbed up two spots, and are currently sixth on the points table.

Brief scores:

Rajasthan Royals 158 for 8 in 20 overs (Jos Butter 82, Sanju Samson 22, Ben Stokes 14; Andrew Tye 4 for 34, Mujeeb Ur Rahman 2 for 21) beat Kings XI Punjab 143 for 7 in 20 overs (KL Rahul 95*, Marcus Stoinis 11; Krishnappa Gowtham 2 for 12, Ish Sodhi 1 for 12, Ben Stokes 1 for 13, Jofra Archer 1 for 32, Jaydev Unadkat 1 for 36) by 15 runs.

Player of the Match: Jos Buttler.