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RR keep hopes alive with tight chase

Rajasthan Royals managed to keep alive their hopes of qualifying to the playoffs with a tight win, getting home with two balls to spare and finishing their league stage with 14 points. The loss meant that Shikhar Dhawan’s punjab Kings became the third team to be eliminated in the season thanks to RR’s chase of 187. This is the ninth successive season since Punjab made it to the final in 2014 that they’ve exited at the league stage.
Big start for Rajasthan
Even as Jos Buttler was prised out by Kagiso Rabada early in the innings, trapping him LBW with the old one-two, Rajasthan still managed to boss the powerplay. They racked up 57 with Devdutt Padikkal turning out to be the aggressor in a useful partnership with Yashasvi Jaiswal. Padikkal led the initial charge, hitting two sixes and a four off Rabada inside the PowerPlay. He got to his fifty off only 29 balls but fell soon after hitting Arshdeep to point, as Jaiswal took over
With RR still looking to chase this down in quick time, Jaiswal stepped on the accelerator through the next few overs even as Shimron Hetmyer started quickly. Jaiswal got his sixth fifty of the season, and also became the first uncapped Indian player to record 600 runs in an IPL season, giving R a big boost before he fell to a reverse sweep.
A stutter before the finish
Hetmyer’s clean hitting through the offside was the highlight of the last phase of RR’s chase. And even as Riyan Parag struggled to get regular boundaries, he managed two sixes off Rabada to keep the chase going before falling in the same over. Hetmyer fell in the penultimate over, raising PBKS’ hopes once more but Jurel’s clean hitting ensured RR’s stutter was nothing more than just that.
What failed PBKS?
Their top order has to take the blame. Coming in with an aggressive attitude was a good option on the batting friendly surface but PBKS could not take a step back in the first ten overs even when wickets were tumbling.
The rot began when Trent Boult had the in-form Prabhsimran Singh caught and bowled which was soon followed by Atharva Taide being caught off Navdeep Saini. Adam Zampa, who got a look-in after R Ashwin was ruled out due to a back spasm, then got the big wicket of Shikhar Dhawan LBW on the sweep. Having lost three wickets inside the PowerPlay in a must-win encounter did not deter Liam Livingstone, who kept swinging away and eventually lost his stumps to Saini. Tottering at 50/4, PBKS were in danger of losing the game with just the bat.
How did they recover?
The 64-run stand with which Jitesh Sharma and Sam Curran got things back on track for PBKS. Jitesh ws the aggressor with a 28-ball 44. He managed to bag crucial sixes off Sandeep Sharma who did not get any movement. Curran played an ideal foil in the stand, prefering to steady the innings. Jitesh once again targeted Saini when he was brought back into the attack going 4,6, 4 against the pacer. But Saini had the last laugh, deceiving Jitesh with a slower one and having him caught. At 114/5, PBKS were not out of the woods yet but had a decent base to build on.
A rousing finish
Shahrukh Khan and Curran ensured that the base did not go to waste. The highlight was the 28-run over bowled by Yuzvendra Chahal which was also the 19th of the innings. Shahrukh later confessed to being a little surprised that Samson had chosen to bowl Chahal at the death, but it turned out to be a blessing for the duo just as they were looking to up the scoring. The momentum also took them into the final over where Boult was also taken for 18 as PBKS finished with a total far more than they had threatened to get at the halfway stage. However, it eventually proved to be still too few.
Brief Scores: Punjab Kings 187/5 (Sam Curran 49, Jitesh Sharma 44, Shahrukh Khan 41; Navdeep Saini 3-40) lost to Rajasthan Royals 189/6 (Yashasvi Jaiswal 50, Devdutt Padikkal 51, Shimron Hetmyer 56) bby 4 wickets
What next?
The two teams become the first to complete their first stage commitments for the season, and with PBKS eliminated, they’d go back to reviewing what went wrong in the season. RR will have to wait until Sunday to see how the other results go to see if they can still salvage something out of a season that spiraled down after a good start.

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