Chandigarh: Manvinder Bisla’s and Kumara Sangakkara's blitzkrieg not-withstanding, Kings XI Punjab allowed the momentum to slip away after losing crucial wickets in the middle order and lost the match by 31 runs.
Warne led Rajasthan Royals have now jumped to the joint fourth place in the IPL points table and gave enough reasons for co-owners Shilpa Shetty and Raj Kundra, the married couple, to give a winning peck.
Punjab who were merrily going along the required run rate target after Ravi Bopara and Sangakkara gave them a solid start while chasing a win, were skittled out for 152/10 in just 19.1 overs.
Bisla in particular, who came in after skipper’s departure, played some breathtaking shots to light up the atmosphere in the jam packed PCA ground.
Bisla’s 18 ball-long sparkling innings was laced with two towering sixes and four hits across the ropes when a Shane Warne special fooled him into a false shot as Lumb completed the formalities at mid-wicket. The Royal captain, who had not had a very good series so far, opened the flood gates as wickets then fell in a heap, much to the disappointment of Kings XI Punjab.
Ravi Bopara (25), Yuvraj Singh (15), Irfan Pathan (9), Mohammed Kaif (8) did not help the home team's cause either and the game tilted heavily in favour of Rajasthan Royals. Kaif, in particular, had a forgettable time at the crease as he survived a plumb leg before wicket against Adam Vogues. The television replays clearly showed that the ball was heading towards the timber.
Seven balls later, luck ran out for Kaif as Yusuf Pathan’s straight delivery missed his wild heave and umpire S K Tarapore agreed to the bowler’s appeal.
As the required run rate kept sky rocketing and shoulders drooped in Preity Zinta’s dug-out, which included people like Vivek Oberoi and Anupam Kher, Pathan struck again by getting rid of Piyush Chawla.
All that remained after Chawla’s departure was mere formalities as only a magical innings could have saved a night of embarrassment for Tom Moody coached Kings XI side.
Mahela Jayawardene’s departure in the penultimate over of the match sealed the fate as Shaun Tait’s yorker completed the formalities for Rajasthan Royals.
A jubilant Shilpa Shetty proudly echoing Halla Bol after the Royals win was the tone of the evening.
Rajasthan Royals Innings
On a fiery Punjab Cricket Association pitch, Rajasthan Royals only managed to put score in bits and pieces and assimilate total of 184 runs for Kings XI to chase.
Put into bat by Sangakkara, Rajasthan were off to steady start by openers Naman Ojha and Michael Lumb. In -fact the 35-run stand was the best start in the season for Royals.
Ojha but failed to last long as Sreesanth, who came in at the expense of Romesh Powar to bolster the fast bowling department, got the first breakthrough much to the delight of local fans.
Michael Lumb on the other end kept the scorecard ticking nicely as all others Preity’s bowlers failed to get any in-roads as Rajasthan looked settled for a big-big total in what was being touted as the contest of back benchers.
On the other hand for Kings XI, just when it looked that odds were stacked against Piyush Chawla, who had struggled in the tournament so far, the wheels of fortune turned and he got rid off dangerous looking Michael Lumb.
A nicely tossed up delivery which spun away after dropping on the middle stump bamboozled the Royals opener as Sangakkara cleaned up the bails behind the stump. Lumb scored 41 runs before Rajasthan lost him.
Helped by Lumb’s 41, Rajasthan could have had a total much beyond 200 runs but none of the middle order batsmen stayed long enough to use the pace of the pitch in the favor.
Faiz Fazal (44), a little known name for Royals, however kept the one end intact till a direct hit from Irfan Pathan from the deep saw him take the long walk back to the pavilion.
But this story would be in complete if I do not mention the man who has been Shane Warne’s blue eyed boy this season – Yusuf Pathan. 19 balls stay at the crease, of danger man Yusuf Pathan, kept Kings XI Punjab on the anticipatory wheels and helped Rajasthan manage to build on an innings and keep up the tempo set by the opening pair of Lumb and Ojha.
Pathan scored 28 runs which included one hit which cleared the fence for the maximum. In the end the helped by Adam Vogues 24 balls 45 Royals managed to post a convincing total of 183/5.
Kings XI Punjab (Playing XI): Ravi Bopara, Irfan Pathan, Kumar Sangakkara(w/c), Yuvraj Singh, Mahela Jayawardene, Mohammad Kaif, Manvinder Bisla, Piyush Chawla, Juan Theron, Sreesanth, Shalabh Srivastava
Rajasthan Royals (Playing XI): Michael Lumb, Naman Ojha(w), Faiz Fazal, Yusuf Pathan, Abhishek Jhunjunwala, Adam Voges, Paras Dogra, Shane Warne(c), Munaf Patel, Siddharth Trivedi, Shaun Tait
First Published: Thursday, March 25, 2010, 08:47