In an edge-of-the-seat thriller, some ruthless hitting by Sanju Samson (85 off 42 balls) and Rahul Tewatia (31-ball 53) gave Rajasthan Royals (RR) an improbable four-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab on Sunday, as they chased down a massive 224-run target — and set up an IPL record.
RR skipper and opener Steve Smith (50 off 27 balls) showed Samson and Tewatia the way as they set out for KXIP’s 223 for two wickets in 20 overs that included Mayank Agarwal’s brilliant maiden IPL century (50-ball 106) – the second fastest by an Indian in the IPL history, after Yusuf Pathan’s 37-ball ton in 2010. RR ended up at 226 for six wickets in 19.3 overs, winning by three balls to spare.
It was the ninth match of IPL and the most thrilling by far. There was little scope for bowlers of both sides outshine batsmen on a flat pitch at the Sharjah International Stadium. It was also the highest successful run chase in the history of IPL.
Agarwal’s brilliance with the bat was overshadowed by the RR trio that set up a memorable victory. Chasing the target, RR lost opener Buttler (4) in quick time but his partner Smith kept the fight on. Smith received decent support from Samson. The duo powered RR to the first three-digit mark in just nine overs before James Neesham got the much-needed breakthrough by sending back dangerous Smith for 50.
Samson and Tewatia denied their opponents making any more onslaughts as they swiftly added 61 runs in the next seven overs. While trying to meet the mounting run-rate, Samson became a victim of Mohammed Shami in the 17th over. But by that time, he had put chase back on track.
Just when it seemed KXIP were making a comeback in the game, Tewatia smoked five sixes off Sheldon Cottrell to bring down the equation to 21 from 12 balls.
The nail-biting thriller took another twist as Shami struck again, this time accounting for the wicket of Robin Uthappa (9) before Tewatia, who fell in the penultimate over, and Jofra Archer blasted 19 runs in the 19th over.
With two needed off the final over, Tom Curran hammered Murugan Ashwin for a boundary through the cover as RR hunted down the target with ease, with three balls to spare.
For Punjab, Shami scalped three wickets but he was equally expensive as he leaked 53 runs from his allotted quota of four overs.
Earlier, Agarwal’s ferocious assault along with Rahul’s scintillating 69 powered Punjab to 223/2 in 20 overs. The Punjab openers were involved in an incredible 183-run partnership. Agarwal showed no mercy to the RR bowlers, clobbering them to various parts of the park.
Agarwal’s spectacular knock was decorated with 10 boundaries and seven hits into the stands while his skipper hammered seven fours and a maximum.
Asked to bat by Smith, the Punjab openers started the proceedings cautiously after adding just three runs in the first over. However, they swiftly activated their beast mode as KXIP raced to 60 for no loss in the first six overs.
They went on to add another 50 runs in the next four overs as the RR bowlers struggled to get a breakthrough. It seemed the Punjab openers were on a mission as their scorecard read 150/0 in 13.2 overs.
Just when the pair was on the verge of shattering the record of highest first wicket partnership in the league’s history, Tom Curran gave his side some respite when he sent back Agarwal in the 17th over with KXIP comfortably placed at 183/1.
While trying to accelerate the run-rate, Rahul became a victim of Ankit Rajpoot in the next over. However, it was too late for RR. Glenn Maxwell (unbeaten 13) and Nicholas Pooran’s (25 not out off 8) cameo in the death overs propelled their team to a mammoth 223/2 in 20 overs.
Brief scores: RR 226/4 in 19.3 overs (Sanju Samson 85, Rahul Tewatia 53; Mohammed Shami 3/53) beat KXIP 223/2 in 20 overs (Mayank Agarwal 106, KL Rahul 69; Ankit Rajpoot 1/39) by 4 wickets.