KXIP 2, RR 0 – Ashwin stars with all-round show

Kings XI Punjab sealed an easy win over Rajasthan Royals – taking the game by 12 runs – as they moved to the fourth spot in the table. KL Rahul struck a half-century, David Miller made a handy contribution but R Ashwin landed the big blows. He lifted the side to 182 – hammering 17 off 4 – and then picked up two wickets to seal the deal for his side.

So what happened in Buttler vs Ashwin 2.0?

Well, nothing. The RR opener was dismissed by Arshdeep Singh in the fifth over, even before KXIP captain decided to bowl himself.

If Buttler didn’t, who stood up for RR?

Rahul Tripathi did in a way and scored a half-century. But he just couldn’t find the next gear. It was same pace and the pressure kept mounting on the side. With Buttler falling early, Sanju Samson and Tripathi scored 59 in 7.3 overs. Samson fell for 27 off 21 and Tripathi fell soon after his half-century. RR lost the game in the middle overs when they just couldn’t accelerate.

Ajinkya Rahane played a frustrating knock, trying to muscle everything that came his way, but with little results. With no Smith, too much pressure was left on the Indian batsmen. By the time Ashton Turner walked in, 55 were needed in the last four overs. On a track where it wasn’t easy to get going, Turner fell for a first ball duck on his debut.

Who won it for KXIP?

Ashwin did. He helped his side complete a double against the visitors with his two crucial wickets – of Samson and Tripathi – apart from his last over heroics with the bat.

But RR did get close?

Yes, Stuart Binny smoked 33 off 11 towards the end and while he couldn’t save his team the blushes, he surely left them pale-faced. Their decision to send in Rahane at No. 4, who made 26 off 21, backfired massively.

The strange KL Rahul knock…

That Rahul has been starting slowly in this edition is a given. His strike rate has been just 94.59 in the powerplay so far. With Chris Gayle dismissed early, the onus fell on Rahul to propel the side forward. Instead, he took an even more cautious approach. He was 4 of 13 at the end of six overs with 22 dot balls being played in the powerplay. Mayank Agarwal’s brisk start did give him some cushion but Rahul decided to hold himself back.

At the end of the tenth over, he had 13 off 23 and was 32 off 34 after 14. He had taken far too long to play himself in and it was time to get going. In the 15th over, he picked up a boundary and a six to pick up the striking rate and reached his half-century off 45 deliveries in the 17th over. However, his plan to launch a late assault didn’t materialise as he was dismissed by Jaydev Unadkat for 52 off 47.

Then how did KXIP manage 182?

When Rahul struggled, David Miller kept the runs flowing. He smashed 40 off 27 to keep the pressure on RR. And the innings was propped up by R Ashwin as well. In the last over, Ashwin hit a four and two sixes to lift the side over 180.

What else stood out in the first innings?

Jofra Archer.

The pacer picked out the best time to remind the England selectors he’s a precious commodity on the eve of the World Cup squad announcement. He bowled his first two overs for just three and had the big wicket of Gayle. He came back in the 17th over and produced a peach to shatter the stumps of Miller. However, he overstepped on that occasion and ended up leaking 12 runs in the over. He made things up in his final over – giving away just 3 – and then Nicholas Pooran and Mandeep Singh to hurt the hosts.

Where do the teams go from here?

KXIP travel to the capital to take on Delhi Capitals on April 20 while RR will host Mumbai Indians on the same day in a 4 PM fixture.

Brief scores: Kings XI Punjab 182/6 in 20 overs (KL Rahul 52; Jofra Archer 4-15) beat Rajasthan Royals 170/7 in 20 overs (Rahul Tripathi 50; R Ashwin 2-24) by 12 runs.

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