RR closer to play-offs
Kevon Cooper scalped three vital wickets before Ajinkya Rahane scored an unbeaten half century to help Rajasthan Royals beat Kings XI Punjab by eight...
Kevon Cooper scalped three vital wickets before Ajinkya Rahane scored an unbeaten half century to help Rajasthan Royals beat Kings XI Punjab by eight wickets and inch closer to securing a play-off berth in the ongoing Pepsi Indian Premier League here on Thursday. By virtue of this win, Rajasthan have moved to the second position in the team standings with 18 points from 13 games behind table toppers Chennai Super Kings (20 points). Opting to field, Cooper picked up the wickets of Adam Gilchrist (42), Shaun Marsh (77) and danger man David Miller giving away just 23 runs off his four overs to help Rajasthan restrict Kings XI to 145 for six. The visitors then rode on Rahane's unbeaten 59 off 49 deliveries and useful contributions from Sanju Samson (47 not out) and Shane Watson (31) to chase down the target with an over to spare. Rajasthan's chase, however, did not start on a good note as they lost skipper Rahul Dravid early when he was cleaned up by left-arm spinner Bipul Sharma. Rahane and Watson then shared 65 runs off 50 balls for the second wicket to set the platform for Rajasthan's chase. Just when it seemed the duo would run away with the game, Piyush Chawla went through Watson's defence. The Australian all-rounder laced his 25-ball innings with three boundaries and one huge hit over the fence. But that was all Kings XI could manage as Rahane and Samson played sensibly thereafter and mixed caution with aggression to guide Rajasthan home without any further damage. While Rahane struck three fours and as many sixes during his knock, young Samson's knock came off just 33 balls with the help of five hits to the fence and one over it. Earlier, Rajasthan bowlers maintained discipline despite an attractive half-century by Marsh and an equally useful contribution from Gilchrist, to restrict Kings XI Punjab inside the 150-run mark. Marsh and Gilchrist added 102 runs for the second wicket but Rajasthan bowlers, led by Cooper (3/23), put the brakes during the death overs. The last seven overs of the innings produced only 45 runs and Kings XI lost five wickets in the process. Ajit Chandila got a breakthrough in the first over when Mandeep Singh (0) lobbed a simple return catch to the bowler with not a run on the board. Gilchrist, who had dropped himself from the playing XI, however, batted positively from the onset. He started off with a cover-drive off S Sreesanth. A flurry off boundaries followed from Gilchrist's bat as he struck two meaty blows off Sreesanth's next over. When left-arm seamer James Faulkner came into bowl, he steered successive deliveries to the boundary with the home team taking off after the first over dismissal. The 100 came up in the 13th over while Marsh duly reached his 50 off 44 balls as he played Faulkner towards fine leg. Brief scores: Kings XI Punjab 145 for 6 (Shaun Marsh 77, Adam Gilchrist 42, Kevon Cooper 3/23) lost to Rajasthan Royals 147for 2 (Ajinkya Rahane 59no, Sanju Samson 47no)