Rajasthan loss to Punjab ignites play-off battle for fourth

Strategy on batting order leaves Brad Hodge and James Faulkner with too much to day as their charge eventually falls short, and gives a lifeline to Mumbai Indians and Hyderabad.
A team effort from Kings XI Punjab helped them notch another victory and retain top spot at the points table. Pawan Singh / The National
A team effort from Kings XI Punjab helped them notch another victory and retain top spot at the points table. Pawan Singh / The National

Punjab 179-4 (20 ov)

Rajasthan 163-8 (20 ov)

Toss: Rajasthan, chose to field

Punjab: Marsh 40, Miller 29, Saha 27; Twatia 1-24, Malik 1-29

Rajasthan: Faulkner 35 not out; Akshar 3-24, Karanveer 2-16

Man of the match: Shaun Marsh (Punjab)

A team effort from Kings XI Punjab in a 16-run victory over Rajasthan Royals helped ensure the top spot in the league phase, but also kept the competition open for the fourth play-off spot.

Bowlers Karanveer Singh and Rishi Dhawan combined for figures of four for 41 in eight overs that stifled Rajasthan in the middle overs.

Earlier, David Miller and George Bailey provided an end-overs blast that took Punjab to 179 for four. The last 13 balls got 39 runs, which eventually proved the difference, as James Faulkner gave a charge for Rajasthan with a 13-ball 35 but ran out of deliveries.

The Royals ended with 163 for eight, going down by 16 runs and remaining stuck on 14 points.

The result also had Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers Hyderabad – both on 12 points – celebrating, since it kept their chances of making the play-offs alive.

Rajasthan’s strategy also called for raised eyebrows, sending the dangerous Faulkner in at No 8 in the batting order after Brad Hodge at No 7.

Miller and Bailey started slowly in the absence of the rested Maxwell, but managed a 60-run stand that came off just 32 balls.

During the second innings, with Rajasthan 56 for one in eight overs, Dhawan produced two deliveries that sneaked through the bat-pad gap, taking out Ajinkya Rahane for 23 and Shane Watson for a first-ball duck.

Karanveer contributed with the wickets of Stuart Binny, holing out, and Sanju Samson, deceived by big turn and stumped.

Dhawan had taken two for 25 and started the slide, while Karanveer showed much promise in his two for 16. When both were done with their quotas, Rajasthan were 84 for five, needing a steep 96 runs from the final six overs.

It had come down to 79 needed off 25 when Rahul Tewatia, in at No 6, was dismissed, but with Hodge still there, the fight was far from gone in the Rajasthan camp. Hodge hit a couple of fours and sixes in one 22-run over from Beuran Hendricks to set Punjab hearts aflutter.

But the equation that stared at Rajasthan needed him to repeat that feat for a couple of overs more and he was stumped off Akshar Patel when he tried to do just that. Akshar eventually ended with Punjab’s best figures, taking three for 24.

Both Hodge (31) and Faulkner were left with too much to do when they came in and Rajasthan might want to revisit the wisdom of keeping them for so late in a steep chase.

Punjab’s innings had been given its customary kick-start courtesy of Virender Sehwag, but once again he perished without going on to get a big one, falling to a leading edge off Faulkner to give Vikramjeet Malik a simple catch at mid-on. Sehwag’s (18 from 8) wicket left Punjab 24 for one in 2.2 overs, but for most of the innings after that, the run rate hovered around the eight-an-over mark without threatening to go beyond.

Punjab dropped Maxwell to bring in Shaun Marsh, who was elegant while creaming boundaries on the offside. Manan Vohra gave yet another glimpse of his undoubted potential, but was guilty of throwing away a good start, ambling for a second run and being run out when he failed to ground his bat.

Saurabh Somani is sub editor at Wisden India. Visit www.wisdenindia.com for more on the IPL or follow them on Twitter @WisdenIndia.

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Published: May 23, 2014 04:00 AM

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