IPL 2024: Skipper Samson shows the way as Rajasthan Royals make a winning start

Rahul's half-century in vain as LSG fall to defeat in Jaipur

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Skipper Sanju Samson inspired his side as Rajasthan Royals defeated Lucknow Super Giants by 20 runs in their Indian Premier League opener on Sunday.

Samson cracked an unbeaten 82 off 52 balls to guide inaugural IPL champions Rajasthan to 193-4 after they chose to bat first in Jaipur.

Rajasthan's New Zealand pacer Trent Boult then struck two early blows to gut the Lucknow batting, which finished on 173-6 despite an unbeaten 64 by West Indies' batter Nicholas Pooran.

Lucknow, who made the play-offs in the last two seasons since their debut alongside Gujarat Titans in 2022, lost regular wickets but skipper KL Rahul kept the chase on track with a 44-ball 58.

The left-handed Pooran then took over, and along with Rahul, put on 85 runs for the fifth wicket but the asking rate kept climbing.

Rahul fell to Sandeep Sharma after his 50 and Marcus Stoinis's departure left Pooran with a lot to get in the final few overs.

Earlier, Samson took on the opposition attack and built key partnerships, including a 93-run third-wicket stand with Riyan Parag, who made 43.

Samson hit six sixes on a pitch with variable bounce where Lucknow bowlers took a beating, except Krunal Pandya, who returned figures of 0-19.

The Rajasthan innings witnessed a nearly 10-minute halt in the first over when a cable of the spidercam broke as technicians scurried to sort out the wires on the field.

Player of the match Samson, said: "Good start, but let's see how it goes. It's all about understanding your strengths and weakness. I just react to the ball. That helps me maintain the shape. Everyone chipped in well. We just had to stick to our plans."

KL Rahul, the defeated LSG captain bemoaned what he felt was a missed opportunity.

"I don't think the target was a lot, it was just 10 over-par," he said. "We bowled well in patches. Not making too much out of it. Just made a few mistakes. Mohsin [Khan] was our powerplay bowler in the first season, but he wasn't fully fit last season. Good to see him back.

"Naveen [ul-Haq] has been crucial for us since he has come in. Powerplay is crucial for every team, and I don't think any team has cracked it yet. When we are three for nothing, and we give ourselves a chance of chasing 194 speaks of our line-up ... We need to find ways to win games of cricket.

"We'll try to build from here, and see where we can get stronger. [Justin] Langer's brought a lot of calmness to the group. I stole his line when I said we need to find ways to win games of cricket. We enjoy having him around. All of us have watched him coach Australia to a T20 World Cup and an Ashes victory.

"When you get runs, you always feel good. But it's important for us to end up on the winning side. That gives more satisfaction. Missing a season was really painful."

Updated: March 24, 2024, 3:35 PM