After their first fixture early in the tournament leaked runs and scripted history, Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab met again with the culmination of the group stages nearing and the fate of their positions hanging. High scores were the focal point once again as Rajasthan Royals secured yet another convincing chase to keep their hopes of qualifying for the playoffs very much alive.
Steve Smith introduced another change in the fast bowling department with the introduction of Varun Aaron in place of Ankit Rajpoot. The Royals captain elected to bowl first while KL Rahul decided to go in with the same team in a bid to get a headstart over the other contenders in the playoff race.
The hero against Kolkata Knight Riders, Mandeep Singh was dismissed for a first-ball duck. Orange cap holder KL Rahul and Chris Gayle navigated the innings through a 121-run stand for the second wicket. The captain became the first batsman to reach the 600-run mark for the season but missed out on a half-century by two runs.
Continuing to impress since his introduction into the Kings XI setup, Chris Gayle struck 8 sixes and reached the elusive milestone of 1000 T20 sixes. The Caribbean ace was unfortunately dismissed for an agonizing 99 in the final over of the innings. With the aid of fellow West Indian Nicholas Pooran, Kings XI Punjab were able to register 185 runs on the board.
Stokes leads the charge again, but finds uniform support from batting unit
Much like their spirited chase against leaders Mumbai Indians at this very ground, Ben Stokes took on the bowlers from the word go. Kings XI Punjab were unable to put a lid on the carnage with the five bowlers they had fielded. 4 bowlers conceded over 40 runs with Ravi Bishnoi being the sole exception.
The English all-rounder registered his half-century inside the powerplay itself but was perished right after. Opener Robin Uthappa was joined by Sanju Samson in the middle and the pair did not allow the asking rate to cloud over their pursuit with the help of constant boundaries.
The top four batsmen of Rajasthan Royals crossed the 30-run mark as even with the wickets of Uthappa and Samson, a comfortable platform was set for the overseas duo of Steve Smith and Jos Buttler to finish things off.
The chasing side reached the target of 186 with 15 balls to spare, and will now face Kolkata Knight Riders in a virtual quarterfinal of sorts considering the other fixtures work in their favour.
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