Gayle’s heroics in vain as Stokes, Samson slay Kings to keep Royals in hunt - GulfToday

Gayle’s heroics in vain as Stokes, Samson slay Kings to keep Royals in hunt

Rajasthan Royals

Rajasthan Royals’ Ben Stokes in action against Kings XI Punjab during their IPL match in Abu Dhabi on Friday. Supplied photo

A sterling all-round performance by England all-rounder Ben Stokes, who besides taking 2 crucial wickets, scored a swashbuckling 50 off just 26 balls, and along with Sanju Samson, who hit a quickfire 48 off 25 balls, were largely responsible for Rajasthan Royals (RR) getting the better of Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) by 7 wickets in their Indian Premier League match at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

Stokes was adjudged man of the match for his all-round feat that gave his team the win and now bring them level on points with KXIP’s 12, albeit with a slightly lesser net run rate.

While Punjab face Chennai, Rajasthan meet Kolkata in a multi-way race for getting into the knockouts.

In reply to KXIP’s 185/4 in their allotted 20 overs, fired by a blistering knock of 99 by Chris Gayle, Rajasthan reached their target of 186 for the loss of only 3 wickets in a canter, with a whopping 15 balls to spare.  Also contributing with the bat were Robin Uthappa ( 30 off 23 balls), skipper Steve Smith (31 off 20) and Jos Buttler (22 off 11).

Earlier, the Royals won the toss and chose to bowl. RR brought in a quick – Varun Aaron -- in place of Ankit Rajpoot, whereas KXIP retained the XI that played in their last game against Kolkata, leaving out Mayank Agarwal yet again.

The move by Rajasthan brought them quick dividends as Mandeep Singh made a hash of a vicious Jofra Archer bouncer only to lob the ball towards point where Ben Stokes dived full-length to catch it -- KXIP’s score, a pathetic 1-1 in the very first over.

However, Aaron who was asked to bowl at the other end, took 10 balls to finish his over, spraying the ball all over the place -- with 4 wides – to release some of the pressure off Archer’s first over. Punjab’s explosive bat, Gayle came in to join his skipper KL Rahul at the fall of Mandeep’s  wicket.

Both Rahul and Gayle were maintaining a brisk run rate of 8.1 after the 10th over when they were 81/1. Stokes in the meanwhile was bowling a tight spell, which paid off in the 15th over when Rahul couldn’t  manage any power on the shot and holed out to Rahul Tewatia at deep midwicket. The RR skipper scored 46 runs off 41 balls (3x4 2x6) in a team’s score of 121 for 2.

Gayle in no time brought up his 50 off a mere 33 balls. Nicholas Pooran, who came in at the fall of Rahul’s wicket, played a good cameo, scoring a brisk 22 of 10 balls -- which included 3 sixes, before becoming Stokes’ second victim as also Tewatia’s, who had his man on the short boundary. Glenn Maxwell came in next.

Gayle has been the bedrock of the KXIP side ever since he joined them this season. He was unfortunate to miss out on a century when in the last over, Archer an inside edge to go on to hit Gayle’s stumps when the West Indian star was on 99. The only man with two 99s in the IPL, Gayle blistering knock came off 63 balls with the help of 6 fours and 8 sixes at a run rate of 157.14.

KXIP, largely due to Gayle’s fireworks, managed a challenging target of 186 after putting on 185/4 in their allotted 20 overs.

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