Ajinkya Rahane was a relieved captain after Rajasthan Royals bowlers successfully defended a reasonable total of 158 against the Kings XI Punjab on Tuesday night despite KL Rahul’s heroics.
The duo of Jofra Archer and Jaydev Unadkat bowled amazingly well in the death-overs to prevail over Rahul’s mesmerizing 70-ball 95* (11 fours and 2 sixes) as RR restricted KXIP to 143/7 in 20 overs.
Speaking at the post-match presentation ceremony, the ecstatic Rahane said: “The bowling unit was absolutely fantastic. Chasing 157, credit to our bowlers, especially in the powerplay. That stage was crucial, getting 2-3 initial wickets. And Ish Sodhi, fantastic. Our intention was to pick wickets, and keeping an attacking field will help us. Gowtham bowled really well, getting Gayle and then the Ashwin wicket as well. Overall, bowling unit was fantastic.”
After opting to bat first, Rajasthan rode on Jos Buttler’s 58-ball 82 to put a competitive total of 158/8 on the board. At one point in time, RR were looking all set for a score close to 180 but Andrew Tye’s remarkable spell (4-0-34-4) put a break on the run flow.
“Really happy with the way we played. I thought 160 was good, but the wicket was difficult. Thanks to Jos Buttler we got a good start. It was important that we enjoy this victory and move forward,” Rahane asserted.
In reply, KXIP lost their first three wickets for just 19 runs with Chris Gayle, Ravichandran Ashwin and Karun Nair recording the scores of 1, 0 and 3 respectively. Although KL Rahul stood his ground and selected his shots to perfection, Punjab continued to lose wickets from the other end.
With the constantly upward going required run-rate KXIP needed someone to play a blinder but it was always going to be a difficult task given the death-overs bowling skills of Archer and Unadkat.
Rahane also praised Unadkat, who has not been able to justify his whopping price tag of 11.50 crores in the cash-rich league.
“Unadkat is important, good to have a left-arm pacer. His cutters are useful in slower surfaces. Sometimes you may go four overs for 40, but good thing is he always thinks about wickets,” Rahane concluded.