MUMBAI, India (CMC):
Veteran Chris Gayle was good enough for a cameo, but West Indies teammate Nicholas Pooran suffered the indignity of a first-ball ‘duck’ as Punjab Kings withstood a fierce challenge from Rajasthan Royals to eke out a four-win victory in the Indian Premier League here yesterday.
Asked to chase 222, Royals came within a whisker of completing the second-highest-ever run chase in the tournament, thanks to 119 off 63 deliveries from captain Sanju Samson at the Wankhede Stadium.
Requiring 13 runs from the final over, however, Samson struck a six off the fourth delivery sent down by 22-year-old left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh but holed out to deep cover off the final delivery with five runs needed for victory.
The left-handed Gayle had earlier struck a 28-ball 40, playing a supporting role to half-centuries from captain KL Rahul (91) and Deepak Hooda (64), to help Kings up to 221 for six of their 20 overs.
Sent in, Kings lost Mayank Agarwal cheaply for 14 in the third over with 22 runs on the board but rebounded through a 67-run, third-wicket stand between Rahul and Gayle.
Rahul crunched seven fours and five sixes in a 50-ball knock while Gayle struck four fours and a brace of sixes before perishing in the 10th over before failing to middle one off teenaged leg-spinner Riyan Parag and holing out to Ben Stokes running in from long on.
Hooda then arrived to produce the real fireworks, lashing four fours and half-dozen sixes in a 28-ball innings to drive a 105-run, third-wicket stand with Rahul and put Kings in sight of the 200-run mark.
He eventually fell to a catch at long on off seamer Chris Morris in the 18th over but the continued assault anticipated from Pooran never materialised as the left-hander fell three balls later in the same over, helping a short ball around to Chetan Sakariya at fine leg.
In reply, the cheap wickets of Stokes and Manan Vohra (12) left Royals stumbling on 25 for two in the fourth over before Samson arrived to string together a series of partnerships to keep his side in the hunt.
The right-hander blasted a dozen fours and seven sixes, adding 45 for the third wicket with Jos Buttler (25), 53 for the fourth with Shivam Dube (23) before putting on a further 52 for the fifth with Parag (25).
A 27-run, sixth-wicket stand-off just 11 balls with Rahul Tewatia (2) kept Royals in sight of their target before the late drama sealed the game for Kings.