The 2021 edition of the Indian Premier League is the 14th season of the cash-rich Twenty20 league. Rajasthan Royals won the inaugural edition of the IPL and has since been minnows. Meanwhile, Punjab Kings has come close but has never won the title to date.
Former champion Rajasthan Royals yet again displayed its dominance. Still, it fell short of chasing a challenging 200-plus total against Punjab Kings in Match 4 of the 2021 Indian Premier League at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Monday. Skipper Sanju Samson's centurion innings played the primary role in bringing RR close, only to fall short by four runs.
Samson won the toss and elected to bowl first, as has been the tradition so far this season. However, the decision seemingly backfired.
PBKS was off to a mild shaky start, losing opener Mayank Agarwal for 14 to pacer Chetan Sakariya in the third over, with 22 runs on the board. Nonetheless, Rahul and incoming batsman, Chris Gayle began to take it to the RR bowlers.
The pair contributed 67 for the second wicket before Gayle departed for 40 to spinner Riyan Parag in the tenth over for a commendable 40. However, it was then when Rahul and Hooda joined the part and annihilated the bowlers.
The duo got going, with both scoring their respective half-centuries. As they contributed 105 runs for the third wicket, it was at 194 when pacer Chris Morris finally got rid of Hooda for 64 in the 18th over.
Although Rahul continued his onslaught, the same over saw Nicholas Pooran fall for an unfortunate duck at 201 after handing an excellent catch to Sakariya, following a poor shot selection of a leg-side wide delivery. Nonetheless, Rahul could not complete his century, as 19 runs later, in the final over, he was dismissed by Sakariya for 91 after being brilliantly caught by Rahul Tewatia at deep mid-wicket, saving six runs in the process.
With two new batsmen on the crease, they could not add much. Jhye Richardson was dismissed off the last ball for an unlucky duck, as PBKS still managed to post a respectable total of 221/6.
As for RR bowlers, eight of them were utilised. It was Sakariya who had the most success, while Parag was the most economical.
As RR came out for the chase, it was off to a tense start, losing all-rounder Ben Stokes for an unsuccessful duck to seamer Mohammed Shami, who caught and bowled him in the third ball of the opening over with nothing on the board. The pair of fellow opener Manan Vohra and Samson then contributed 25 runs for the second wicket before the former departed for just 12 to Arshdeep Singh, dismissed similarly as his opening partner in the fourth over.
Nevertheless, Samson and wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler kept the scorecard and the run-rate in check, contributing 45 runs for the third wicket. At 70, the latter fell for 25 to pacer Richardson who knocked him over in the eighth over.
It was followed by another impressive 53-run stand for the fourth wicket between Samson and all-rounder Shivam Dube. While Samson scored his 15th IPL half-century in the process, it was in the 13th over when Dube walked back for 23 after taken by Hooda at cow corner off Arshdeep.
The RR batsmen continued to build partnerships, as it was then Samson and Parag who contributed to 52 runs for the fifth wicket, with the latter looking in delicate touch, playing some exquisite big strokes. Nonetheless, at 175 in the 17th over, an attempted hook off Shami resulted in Parag being caught behind by Rahul for 25.
As all-rounder Rahul Tewatia joined Samson, the latter slammed his third IPL century and became the first captain to do so on his IPL debut. After a 26-run contribution between the two, the pacer Riley Meredith got rid of the former for just a couple in the 19th over, as Rahul caught him behind.
It was all up to Samson and Chris Morris to get the job done, as 13 runs were needed of the final six. With the equation down to five off two, Samson decided against running a single and giving the South African strike. As Arshdeep delivered the last ball, Samson was caught by Hooda at wide long-off to his dismay, with RR falling short of the target by just four runs.
For PBKS, five bowlers tried their hands at the RR batsmen. While Arshdeep had the most success, Shami turned out to be the most economical.
Brief scores: PBKS 221/6 (Rahul- 91, Gayle- 40, Hooda- 64; Sakariya- 3/31) beat RR 217/7 (Samson- 119; Arshdeep- 3/35) by four runs.
Last Updated Apr 13, 2021, 12:04 AM IST