Ajinkya Rahane-led Rajasthan Royals led threw away a strong position to lose their tournament-opener against Kings XI Punjab. Chasing 185, the Royals finished on 170 for 9 despite being 148 for 2 at one stage, thus losing the game by 14 runs.
Their chase fell apart after their star opener Jos Buttler’s entertaining knock came to a controversial manner. The wicketkeeper-batsman was batting on 69 and looking set to guide the Royals to a comfortable win. The Royals were comfortably placed at 108 for 1 in the 13th over when R Ashwin ‘Mankaded” Buttler. The incident turned the game on its head and Royals went on to throw away their strong start to suffer their first-ever loss against Kings XI Punjab in Jaipur.
Earlier in the game, Kings XI Punjab rode on veteran Chris Gayle’s half-century to post 184 for 4 in the allotted 20 overs. Ajinkya Rahane’s decision to bat first proved spot on as Dhawal Kulkarni dismissed the dangerous KL Rahul for just 4 in the very first over. However, Kings XI soon recovered.
Gayle and Mayank Agarwal played with caution to bring the innings on track. With the team in a tight spot, the two gave up the big shots early on to resurrect the innings.
However, the Royals struck at a crucial juncture to come out on top. Just when it looked the two are set to shift gears, K Gowtham broke the 54-run by dismissing Agarwal for 22. Kings XI were precariously placed at 68 for 2 at the halfway stage. They desperately needed Gayle to start firing and he soon obliged. In the 12th over of the innings, he slammed Jaydev Unadkat for three fours and a six to get into groove. During that very over, he also completed his fifty off 33 deliveries.
In the sixteenth over of the innings, he hit Ben Stokes for two fours and a six before the latter dismissed him against the run of play. Gayle score 79 off 47 deliveries with the help of 8 fours and four sixes. Towards the end, Sarfraz Khan played a handy knock of 46 to make sure the Kings XI put up a good total.
Speaking at the end of the game, Ajinkya Rahane praised Kings XI bowlers for defending 39 runs in the last four overs. He also refrained from making any comment on the Mankad incident.
“I thought we were batting really well. We started off well at the top and then got another good partnership. Later on we needed 39 off 4 overs and we thought that could have been done easily. But KXIP bowled really well in the last three overs. We are not supposed to comment on a controversial issue. The match referee will take the call. We will take the decision sportively. When you are chasing 180 plus, someone has to go really hard. Definitely, Jofra bowled really well. He was good for us in the last season as well. Jos, we all know how dangerous he is,” Ajinkya Rahane said.