Team Punjab, led by Ravichandran Ashwin, produced a brilliant comeback to beat Ajinkya Rahane-led Rajasthan by 14 runs in their opening clash of the 2019 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on Monday.
After being asked to bat first, swashbuckling batsman Chris Gayle smashed a 47-ball 79 runs while Sarfarz Khan also made a significant contribution with an unbeaten knock of 46 as Punjab posted a respectable total of 184 for four in 20 overs.
In reply, Ajinkya Rahane (27) and Jos Buttler (69) made a solid start for Rajasthan, sharing a 78-run stand for the opening wicket. Following Buttler's departure, the hosts struggled to build partnership and collapsed from 148-3 at one point to 170/9 in their stipulated 20 overs.
Sam Curran, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Ankit Rajpoot bagged two wickets each, while Ashwin also chipped in with a wicket.
Here are the highlights:
# Team Punjab beats Rajasthan by 14 runs in IPL 2019 clash!
# Jofra Archer ran out by Pooran off Mohammed Shami's delivery. Rajasthan now require 21 runs from 6 balls. Rajasthan 164/7 (19 overs)
# Wicket! After losing Smith and Samson, the hosts lost Tripathi and Stokes off Mujeeb Ur Rahman's deliveries in the very next over. While Stokes was caught by Karun Nair at long-on, Tripathi was too caught at long-on after KL Rahul took an easy catch. Rajasthan 158/6 (18 overs)
# Wicket! Smith and Samson depart in quick successions for 20 and 30 respectively in the 17th over. Rajasthan now need 35 runs required from 18 balls remaining. Rajasthan 150/4 (17 overs)
# 25 runs off the last two overs for Rajasthan. The hosts require 50 more runs from 30 balls, with Smith (16) and Samson (19) currently batting at the crease.Rajasthan 135/2 (15 overs)
# Wicket! Ashwin has bagged a big wicket for Punjab by Mankading Buttler (69) in the fifth ball of the 13th over. The Indian spinner appealed for Buttler's dismissal and the review showed that the Rajasthan batsman was quite outside the crease. Rajasthan 110/2 (13 overs)
# Sanju Samson is the new batsman in !
# Wicket! Soon after Buttler (51) brought up yet another half-century, Ashwin struck to remove Rahane to break the opening stand between the duo. The Indian batsman departed for 27. Rajasthan 78/1 (8.1 overs)
# Ankit Rajpoot comes into the attack!
# Runs are flowing in at a good pace as Rajasthan have added 26 runs in the last two overs. Rahane (21) and Buttler (43) are standing strong at the crease and are constantly dealing in boundaries. The hosts require 121 runs from 14 overs. Rajasthan 64/0 (6 overs)
# Rajasthan made a good start to their chase, adding 18 runs in their first two overs. While Rahane got off the mark with a crisp drive between the non-striker's legs and the right of mid-off for four runs in the third ball, Buttler too scored a boundary off the first delivery from Mujeeb Ur Rahman in the second over to open his account. Rajasthan 18/0 (2 overs)
# Ajinkya Rahane and Jos Buttler to begin Rajasthan's chase. Sam Curran opens the attack for Punjab.
# Innings Break!
# Punjab set a huge 185-run target for Rajasthan. Punjab 184/4 (20 overs)
# Ben Stokes to bowl the last over.
# Nicholas Pooran is the new batsman in!
# Wicket! Ben Stokes has bagged a big wicket in the form of swashbuckling batsman Gayle (79). The West Indies star went for a pull but failed to get enough distance as Tripathi made a perfect jump to catch the ball at deep mid-wicket. Punjab 144/3 (15.5 overs)
# Runs are flowing in at a good pace for Punjab as they have added a total of 31 runs in the last three overs, including three boundaries and a six. Gayle (65) continues to remain strong at the crease and is getting good support from Sarfaraz (26) from the other end. Punjab 125/2 (15 overs)
# An expensive 12th over from Jaydev Unadkat as he has conceded 19 runs to Punjab. Unadkat was first smashed by Gayle for back-to-back three boundaries before the Caribbean batsman scored a six in the fourth delivery. With a maximum, Gayle also brought up a half-century. Punjab 94/2 (12 overs)
# Sarfaraz Khan comes to bat for Punjab!
# Wicket! As and when Gayle and Agarwal were looking good at the middle, Gowtham struck to remove the Indian batsman. The Rajasthan player bowled a length ball on off stump and Agarwal attempted for the big loft down the ground, only to see Kulkarni take a good catch at long-on. Punjab 60/2 (8.5 overs)
# Punjab have added just six runs in the last two overs. However, Gayle (14) and Agarwal (16) are looking settled at the crease after losing opener KL Rahul in the very first over and they are aiming to stitch a good partnership in order to guide their side to a big total. Punjab 37/1 (7 overs)
# 15 runs off the last two overs. While Agarwal got off the mark by smashing a maximum over mid-off in the second over, Gayle opened his account by pushing the fifth delivery from Gowtham towards mid-on for single. Meanwhile, Chris Gayle becomes the fastest batsman to reach 4,000 IPL runs. Punjab 21/1 (3 overs)
# Krishnappa Gowtham comes into the attack for Rajasthan!
# Mayank Agarwal is the new batsman in!
# Wicket! Dhawal Kulkarni gave the breakthrough to Rajasthan as early as in the very first over. Kulkarni bowled a length ball outside off and KL Rahul (4) got an outside edge of the bat as Buttler dived to his right to take a good catch. Punjab 6/1 (1 over)
# KL Rahul and Chris Gayle have walked down the crease to open the innings for Punjab. Dhawal Kulkarni to begin the proceedings for Rajasthan.
Rajasthan: Ajinkya Rahane (capt), Jos Buttler (wk), Steven Smith, Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Rahul Tripathi, K Gowtham, Jofra Archer, Jaydev Unadkat, Dhawal Kulkarni
Punjab: Chris Gayle, KL Rahul (wk), Mayank Agarwal, Sarfaraz Khan, Nicholas Poorna, Mandeep Singh, Sam Curran, R Ashwin (capt), Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Ankit Rajpoot
# Ajinkya Rahane wins the toss, opts to bowl first against Punjab.
# The toss is all set to take in a few minutes.
A day after David Warner began his redemption journey, former Australian skipper Steve Smith will also look to make a positive return to the Indian Premier League (IPL) when he plays for Team Rajasthan in their opening match of the 12th edition of the tournament against Punjab on Monday.
Smith and Warner missed that 2018 IPL after being handed a year-long ban for their involvement in the massive ball-tampering scandal that took place during the four-match Test series in South Africa in March last year.
Smith, who is yet to recover fully from an elbow injury which he sustained during the Big Bash League (BBL) late last year, will look to come up with some good performances ahead of the ICC World Cup, which is to be held in England and Wales from May 30.
Heading into 2019 Indian T20 league, Rajasthan will look to pick their second title, while Team Punjab will be keen to snap the deadlock and create history by lifting their maiden title this season.
Ajinkya Rahane-led Rajasthan will rely on their strong batting line-up featuring Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Sanju Samson and the captain himself to name a few.
Meanwhile, Punjab's batting unit also look dangerous with the likes of Chris Gayle, KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal being there in the team.
Captain Ravichandran Ashwin will lead their bowling attack.
The two squads are as follows:
Rajasthan: Ajinkya Rahane (captain), Steve Smith, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler, Ashton Turner, Ish Sodhi, Oshane Thomas, Liam Livingstone, Sanju Samson, Shubham Ranjane, Stuart Binny, Shreyas Gopal, Sudhesan Midhun, Jaydev Unadkat, Prashant Chopra, Mahipal Lomror, Aryaman Birla, Riyan Parag, Dhawal Kulkarni, Krishnappa Gowtham, Varun Aaron, Shashank Singh, Manan Vohra, Rahul Tripathi.
Punjab: Ravichandran Ashwin (captain), Sam Curran, Varun Chakaravarthy, Mohammed Shami, Nicholas Pooran, Moises Henriques, Hardus Viljoen, Darshan Nalkande, Sarfaraz Khan, Arshdeep Singh, Agnivesh Ayachi, Harpreet Brar, Murugan Ashwin, Chris Gayle, Andrew Tye, Lokesh Rahul, Ankit Rajpoot, Mandeep Singh, Simran Singh, Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and David Miller.
(With PTI inputs)