Rajasthan Royals produced an all-round show in their first match © PTI
Rajasthan Royals produced an all-round show in their first match © PTI

Rajasthan Royals (RR) trumped the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) by 26 runs in their opening match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2015, at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Ground in Pune on Friday. After setting a challenging total of 163 to win. Rajasthan kept KXIP to 136 for eight  from their allotted 20 overs in the match. With this win, Rajasthan Royals moved to the first spot in the IPL 2015 Points Table with their Net Run Rate being +1.30. FULL SCORECARD: Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) vs Rajasthan Royals (RR) in IPL 2015 Match 3

The reasons for KXIP’s loss in this game were simple: they played two spinners on a wicket which was greenish and supported the fast bowlers more, and sent in Akshar Patel at No. 5 in their tricky chase when the asking rate was still daunting.

Just like Rajasthan, the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) too made a poor start as their dashing opener Virender Sehwag was caught behind on the first ball of the innings. The way Sehwag was dismissed was a reminiscent of many of his dismissals against quality fast bowlers, as the ball was probing him outside the off-stump and the batsman offered the bat without actually coming into the line of the delivery. Sanju Samson took a fine catch behind the wickets and Rajasthan made a start they would have desired to. Virender Sehwag dismissed for duck against RR in Match 3 of IPL 8 at Pune

Murali Vijay, playing his first match for the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) made intentions clear right from the start as he played clean strokes to make confident start. Unfortunately he looked like the lone ranger from KXIP as the other top-order batsmen failed to keep the scoreboard ticking. James Faulkner takes Rajasthan Royals (RR) to 162/7 vs Kings XI Punjab (KXIP)

Wriddhiman Saha, coming in at No. 3, hit one four but then he was run out in one of the most bizarre ways. Southee bowled one wide on the leg side and Samson dived to collect on his left. Saha, presumably thinking of a misfield, set off for a run but realised that Samson had already thrown the ball on the wickets. Saha did not even attempt coming back into the crease.

Glenn Maxwell tried swinging his bat but he too failed. The right-handed batsman hit one four but then went for his stroke on the final ball of the fifth over. Southee moved sharply to his left and took a diving catch to his left to get rid of the high-profile KXIP batsman.

Vijay was the next one to go, who was meanwhile joined by Akshar Patel in what comes as a surprising move. The Indian cricketer was promoted above the likes of David Miller and George Bailey, and as expected, he only hung around in the middle while the others did the bulk of scoring.

Vijay was run out while trying to take a sharp single, as Samson once again proved his prowess behind the wickets. Akshar dropped one short on the fourth ball of the ninth over and started off for run. Vijay, despite leaving the non-strikers’ end lot early, failed to make it in on time and Samson’s direct hit ended his stay at the crease.

Miller took six balls to open his account, and a few good hits here and there were the only contribution from his end. Miller picked one outside the off from Southee and sent it flying over the midwicket region for a massive six, and there were also a few strokes dissecting the field well.

In the 14th over, Dhawal Kulkarni tested Miller with one short ball which the batsman hit in the air. Faulkner, at third man, covered a lot of ground to his right and took a fine running catch to pummel the KXIP hopes who would have been thinking of a turnaround. George Bailey tried his best but it was one of those days when he was not able to connect. The asking run rate kept soaring and despite his best efforts, the KXIP batsman was not able to get quick runs. David Miller wicket puts RR in drivers seat against KXIP in IPL 2015

Bailey’s innings ended with a splendid effort from Southee and Karun Nair in the deep, with the New Zealand cricketer pulling the ball inside the boundary as the KXIP skipper looking to hit a six, and Nair taking a sharp, low catch near the boundary ropes to mark a splendid day for the Royals on the field.

Brief scores:

Rajasthan Royals 162 for 7 in 20 overs (Steven Smith 33, Deepak Hooda 30, James Faulkner 46; Anureet Singh 3 for 23, Mitchell Johnson 2 for 34) beat Kings XI Punjab 136 for 8 in 20 overs (Murali Vijay 37; James Faulkner 3 for 26, Tim Southee 2 for 36) by 26 runs.

Man of the Match: James Faulkner

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(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)