It was supposed to be Steve Smith's game, but his Rajasthan Royals return in the Indian Premier League (IPL) was overshadowed by veteran Chris Gayle's brilliant knock, then by the 'mankading' of Jos Buttler by Kings XI Punjab captain Ravichandran Ashwin. There will be debates over that dismissal, over the spirit of game and et all. Interestingly, it all happened in front of Smith himself.
That wicket was one of the turning points of the game.
Chasing a 185-run target, Rajasthan were cruising at one stage
108 in the 13th over. Then, a fuming Buttler left. It was followed by wickets of Smith and Samson in quick succession. Ben Stokes, for all his talent, hit six then holed out. Then, Punjab bowlers wrapped up with some disciplined bowling.
Earlier, Gayle didn't storm Jaipur, but made sure the visitors got a fighting total with a 47-ball 79-run knock. And it proved enough.
Kings XI Punjab: 184 for 4 in 20 overs (Chris Gayle 79, Sarfaraz Khan 46 not out; Ben Stokes 2/48).
Rajasthan Royals: 170 for 9 in 20 overs (Jos Buttler 69, Sanju Samson 30; Mujeeb Ur Rahman 2/31).
RR Innings; Target 185 Runs
11:36 PM IST: Wild swing from Jaydev Unadkat, and the leading edge. Bowler and wicketkeeper Nicholas Pooran collided, but Rajpoot somehow clung onto the ball. Unadkat gone. 21 from 5. Krishnappa Gowtham played the next ball straight to Mohamed Shami at mid-off. 21 off 4, and the last wicket for RR. New man Shreyas Gopal took a single. 20 from 3. A dot, then a four off the penultimate ball, hit by Dhawal Kulkarni. A single and Kings XI Punjab won by 14 runs.
Ankit Rajpoot to bowl the last over.
11:28 PM IST: Mohammed Shami, bowling the penultimate over, missed a run out chance off his first ball. Two runs off it, a dot ball, then a single as Krishnappa Gowtham tried his best to counter the guile of experienced bowler. 24 from nine. A double followed. 22 from 8. A fatal mixed-up for the Royals and Jofra Archer's run out. FoW - 163/7 (18.5 Over). 22 from 7. New man Jaydev Unadkat took a single off the last ball to keep the strike. Six runs from it. 21 from 6.
11:24 PM IST: Then, Ben Stokes lasted only two balls. He hit Mujeeb Ur Rahman for a six, but holed out next ball at long-on, caught by sub Karun Nair. FoW - 157/5 (17.3 Over). Two new batsmen for RR, Krishnappa Gowtham joined Rahul Tripathi in the centre. Then, the Afghan spinner got the better of Tripathi. Caught at long-off. Tripathi made 1 off 4. FoW - 158/6 (17.6 Over). RR need another 27 runs from 12 balls.
11:17 PM IST: KL Rahul takes a brilliant, running catch at extra cover to end Steve Smith's (19 off 16) stay in the centre. FoW-148/3 (16.4 Over). Sam Curran thus got his first wicket of the day in his final over. He then got a second, this time, he had Sanju Samson (30 off 25) caught at mid-off by R Ashwin. FoW - 150/4 (16.6 Over). Curran's figures: 4-0-51-2.
11:10 PM IST: Mohammed Shami returned for his third over. A single to Steve Smith, then Sanju Samson hit the second ball for a six over long-off boundary. Three more singles, then Shami pulled out from runup. A wild heave for a single to end the over. 11 runs from the over. RR were 146/2 after 16 overs.
11:05 PM IST: Steve Smith hit his first boundary off the eight ball he faced. A well-timed sweep shot. Smith followed it up with an outstanding six, flicked. Sam Curran thus conceded 17 runs from the over. Busy over. After 15 overs, KXIP were 135/2. Rajasthan need another 50 runs in 30 balls.
11:00 PM IST: That brought Steve Smith in the centre. He blocked the first ball he faced, bwoled by Ankit Rajpoot. A single, then another single. Followed by two no balls. Rajpoot did well to deny any big hit to batsman from the free-hit. Eight runs from the over. RR were 118/2 after 14 overs.
10:51 PM IST: What an over! Another good over for Kings XI Punjab. R Ashwin has been brilliant. Giving no room to maneuver. After three singles from the first four balls, KXIP claimed for MANKADING. Backing off that far. And Buttler's gone. What a waste. Smart work from R Ashwin to stop and let Buttler leave his crease. He made 69 off 43. Sure leaves a bad taste. There out to be some sort of warning too. Buttler's angry. Mouthing. FoW - 108/2 (12.5 Over). Five runs a wicket from the over.
10:47 PM IST: Two quick overs. Mujeeb Ur Rahman conceded six runs – four singles and a double in his third over. Before that R Ashwin leaked only three runs. Captain's stuff. Meanwhile, that was Jos Buttler's fifth consecutive half a ton against KXIP. 73 in 2017, 51 and 82 in 2018 and today. After 12 overs, RR were 105/1. Equation = 80 off 48 balls.
10:41 PM IST: Ankit Rajpoot, who produced a good first over – troubling Jos Buttler in that spell – just witnessed the class of the Englishman. A single off the first ball by Sanju Samson, then Buttler played a perfect scoop shot behind the wicket. It was followed by a powerful cover drive, lofted one, after making the room to play an inside out. A double followed. Two singles to end the 13-run over. RR were 96/1 after 10 overs. 89 needed after 60 balls.
10:35 PM IST: Finally a wicket for Punjab. R Aswhin bowled his rival number Ajinkya Rahane (27 off 24). FoW-78/1 (8.1 Over). Rahane, trying to be crafty, missed the skidder and his off stump was hit. Sanju Samson joined Jos Buttler. Five runs and a wicket from the skipper. KXIP must be seeing a window opportunity here. RR were 83/1 after nine overs.
10:30 PM IST: Another bowling change for Kings XI Punjab. Medium pacer Ankit Rajpoot on. A double off the first ball as Ajinkya Rahane played towards deep square leg. A single, then a dot ball. Rajpoot's actually troubled Jos Buttler some brilliant deliveries. But then, Buttler played a lofted drive, off the last ball, to end the over on a strong note. Seven runs from the over. KXIP were 78/0. And that four brought up Buttler's fifty, in 29 balls with the help of eight fours and two sixes.
10:26 PM IST: Skipper to skipper. A single off the first ball. This has been the tactics from RR. Ajinkya Rahane took a single, then give the strike to Jos Buttler. Ravichandran Ashwin did well to concede only seven runs – five singles and a double. RR were 71/0 after seven overs. They need another 114 runs in 78 balls.
10:21 PM IST: Sam Curran now knows why Jos Buttler is considered as one of the most dangerous batsmen in the world. Ajinkya Rahane took a single off the first ball the Buttler took over. Hit the second ball for a four, over point. A dot, then a six over long-on. Buttler then find the gaps in the field to hit two more fours – first, between third man and point, and second, a cover piering through the packed off-side. 19 runs from the over. RR were 64/0 after the end of the mandatory power play.
10:17 PM IST: Seven from Mohammed Shami's second over. Ajinkya Rahane blocked the first ball then hit the second for a four. But Shami did well to contain, conceding a single off the third and double off the fifth. RR were 45/0 after five overs. Rajasthan need another 140 runs in 90 balls.
10:14 PM IST: Jos Buttler's serving Royal service in Jaipur. He hit Mujeeb Ur Rahman for a four off fourth and six off the last ball after Ajinkya Rahane took a single off the first ball. RR were 38/0 after four overs.
10:11 PM IST: Bolwing change for Kings XI Punjab. Mohammed Shami leaked nine runs, including a four, off the fourth ball hit by Jos Buttler. RR were 27/0 after three overs.
10:03 PM IST: Ajinkya Rahane hit Sam Curran for three fours and 12 run from the first over. But Mujeeb Ur Rahman made sure to check the run flow with a tidy, 6-run over. RR were 18/0 after two overs.
9:57 PM IST: Sam Curran to open the proceedings in the second half of the match. Ajinkya Rahane on strike.
9:42 PM IST: Ben Stokes started the last over with the wicket of Nicholas Pooran (12 off 14), caught at long-off by Ajinkya Rahane. Followed by a wide. Then, Sarfaraz Khan played THAT scoop shot behind the wicket, this time for a four. Stokes laughed off at the youngster's audacity. A single, then the new man Mandeep Singh took a double off the fourth ball. Ran three off the next ball after his skier landed just in front of Sreyas Gopal at mid-off. Khan (46 off 29) finished the innings off with a six, over deep midwicket. Royals thus managed 184/4.
9:35 PM IST: Another expensive over from Jaydev Unadkat. Nicholas Pooran hit the second ball for a four, then Sarfaraz Khan picked the well disguised fourth ball for a four. 12 runs from the over. 42 runs and one wicket from last four overs. Unadkat's figures so far, 3-0-44-0. KXIP were 167/3 after 19 overs.
9:28 PM IST: Jofra Archer returned for his final over. Five runs from it to complete the spell with figures of 4-0-17-0. KXIP were 155/3.
9:24 PM IST: Chris Gayle's wicket seemed the have changed the complexion. Shreyas Gopal conceded only first runs in his first over. Good time to bowl. KXIP were 150/3 after 17 overs. Sarfaraz Khan, unbeate on 27 off 22, just got Nicholas Pooran's company.
9:17 PM IST: What just happened. The Universe Boss started opening up. Hit Ben Stokes for 18 runs before getting out off the fifth ball, to a stunning catch.Started with a six, straight. Then four byes, with ball beating everyone, slipping through Gayle's legs. A four behind point. A wide, then a four. Then, Stokes heaved a sigh of relief. Rahul Tripathi took an impossible catch at deep to end Gayle's knock. FoW -144/3 (15.5 Over). Gayle is distraught. He made 79 off 47. 20 runs from that Stokes over.
9:11 PM IST: Dhawal Kulkarni returned for his final over. Four singles, then Sarfaraz Khan played an outlandish shout, scoop over the wicketkeeper's head, but there was no power. Only a double. But the youngster played a classic pull shot for a four to make it a 10-run over. KXIP were 125/2 aftr 15 overs. Gayle-Khan stand now worth 65(37), 52 of those coming in the last four overs. Kulkarni's figures: 4-0-30-1.
9:06 PM IST: First boundary, a six, against the bowling of Jofra Archer. After two singles from three balls, Chris Gayle launched the fourth ball straight and the ball crashed into the sightscreen. Two more singles, and 10 runs from the over. KXIP were 115/2 after 14 overs. Archer's figures: 3-0-12-0.
9:01 PM IST: Krishnappa Gowtham completed his spell. Sarfaraz Khan hit the second and third balls for fours. 11 runs from it. Gowtham's figures: 4-0-32-1. After 13 overs, KXIP were 105/2; Chris Gayle on 55 off 37 and Sarfaraz Khan on 16 off 13.
8:57 PM IST: Fifty for Chris Gayle, with a six. He took 33 balls, with the help of six fours and two sixes, off those three fours and a six came from this over. 19 from Jaydev Unadkat's second over. KXIP were 94/2 after 12 overs.
8:55 PM IST: Seven runs from Ben Stokes' second over, which included a stunning, undescribable pull shot from Chris Gayle. The ball kept low against Gayles anticipation, but the big man adjusted his shot to bea the mid-wicket fielder. KXIP were 75/2 after 11 overs.
8:49 PM IST: The very talented Sarfaraz Khan, fro whom KXIP sacrificed Karu Nair, joined his former RCB team-mate Chris Gayle. Khan took four balls to open his account, a single. A wide, then a single. Khan then played a crafty guided shot over the cordon for a four to end the over. Dhawal Kulkarni leaked seven runs in his third over. His figures so far 3-0-20-1. KXIP were 68/2 after 10 overs.
8:41 PM IST: Chris Gayle's warming up. Hit the first ball of the ninth over for a six, a dot ball followed. Then Gayle ran two. What a sight. He was pushing Mayank Agarwal for the second. A double from a fine sweep shot. A wide and one leg bye later, Krishnappa Gowtham got the wicket of Agarwal (22 off 24). Caught at straight mid-off boundary by Dhawal Kulkarni. It was going for a six. FoW - 60/2 (8.5 Over). Kulkarni walked a tight rope there. Fine balance from the pacer to pull off the catch.
8:37 PM IST: Expensive Jaydev Unadkat started his spell with an expensive over. Chris Gayle hit him for a four off the first ball, then took a double, followed by a single. Mayank Agarwal hit the fourth ball for a six, over extra cover boundary. Two dot balls to end the 13-run over. KXIP were 50/1 after eight overs, with Gayle on 21 off 21 and Agarwal on 22 off 23.
8:34 PM IST: Another good over for the bowling side. Krishnappa Gowtham leaked just five runs. KXIP were 37/1 after seven overs. A while ago, Chris Gayle became the fastest player to reach 4000 IPL runs. He took 114 innings, which is two less than David Warner's feat. Virat Kohli is third (128), followed by Suresh Raina and Gautam Gambhir – both took 140 innings each.
8:28 PM IST: Jofra Archer face-to-face with Chris Gayle. Barbadian vs Jamaican. Out to have some fireworks, not necessarily in fours or sixes though. Two dot balls, then a another tight single. Archer then presented Mayank Agarwal with a rising delivery. Two more dots. Only a single from the over. Two runs from two overs from pacer who is all set to represent England in the world Cup.
8:24 PM IST: Just the opposite of the previous over. Ben Stokes ran in and was hit for a four, a lofted cover drive from Mayank Agarwal. Stokes responded with a dot ball, then almost had Agarwal caught at mid-on. Ball landed just in front of the moving fielder. He cramped Chris Gayle for room, but the Windies great still manages to beat the inner circle with his defensive shot. Two runs. A wide, then a dot off the reload. A single to end the nine-run over. KXIP were 31/1 after five overs.
8:18 PM IST: Jofra Archer got his first over. A dot to Mayank Agarwal to start with. Another dot. Agarwal almost ran himself out. He should be aware that Chris Gayle is batting partner. He apologised. Another dot. Four in a row. Few tweaks in the fielding placements before the fifth ball, and another dot. A tight single to finish the over.
8:15 PM IST: Chris Gayle just ran for a quick single, off the fifth ball of the over. Rare sight. Earlier, he hit Dhawal Kulkarni for a four, off the fourth ball. Seve runs from the over. KXIP were 21/1 after three overs.
8:11 PM IST: Krishnappa Gowtham shared the new ball with Dhawal Kulkarni. Eight runs from the over, including a six, hit by Mayank Agarwal, over long-off.
8:08 PM IST: Six runs and a wicket from the first over. Dhawal Kulkarni has given Royals a royal start. Chris Gayle got Mayank Agarwal's company. KXIP were 6/1.
8:04 PM IST: A dot ball, then the silken touch of KL Rahul (4 off 4), through cover for a four. Two balls later, Kulkarni had Rahul caught behind. Brilliant take from Jos Buttler. FoW - 4/1 (0.4 Over).
8:00 PM IST: Dhawal Kulkarni to open the proceedings, KL Rahul to take strike.
7:55 PM IST: Rajasthan Royals have never lost to Kings XI Punjab in Jaipur. After 40 overs tonight, we will get to know if the inaugural champions still maintain that streak. Meanwhile, two heavyweights in Steve Smith and Chris Gayle will hope to give their respetive sides the winning starts.
Steve Smith and Chris Gayle, two of the biggest stars in action today. Photo courtesy: BCCI
7:40 PM IST: Ajinkya Rahane wins toss and Rajasthan Royals will bowl first against Kings XI Punjab. Photo courtesy: BCCI
RR: Ajinkya Rahane (c), Jos Buttler (wk), Steven Smith, Ben Stokes, Sanju Samson, Krishnappa Gowtham, Rahul Tripathi, Shreyas Gopal, Jofra Archer, Jaydev Unadkat, Dhawal Kulkarni
KXIP: Chris Gayle, Lokesh Rahul (wk), Mayank Agarwal, Sarfaraz Khan, Nicholas Pooran, Mandeep Singh, Sam Curran, Ravichandran Ashwin (c), Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Ankit Rajpoot
Meaning, no Karun Nair and Varun Chakravarthy today.
7:30 PM IST: Michael Clarke's pitch report says, it's "little two-paced", but reckons a good batting stripe. Toss and team news to follow...
7:15 PM IST: Meanwhile, Mumbai Indians team management said that Jasprit Bumrah has "recovered well" after landing awkwardly during the match against Delhi Capitals. He didn't come to bat as Delhi won the match. He will be one of India's key players in the World Cup.
6:54 PM IST: Here are the two captains and very interesting fact...
6:27 PM IST: The focus will also be on the two captains, both discarded and effectively out of the World Cup contention. Then there's England trio in RR ranks – Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer – all match winners. For KXIP, Chris Gayle is the biggest gun, and if he fires as seen in the West Indies' series against England, we are in for a treat. Then, what about KL Rahul and Mujeeb Ur Rahman?
6: 20 PM IST: Remember, there were surprises galore at Jaipur player auction in December. RR broke the bank, again, to retain the services of Jaydev Unadkat. But the biggest surprise was Varun Chakravarthy. Kings XI Punjab spent INR 8.4 crore for the spinner, making him the joint costliest player along with Unadkat at the auction. And both the players are likely to play today.
We have seen Unadkat in action, in both India and IPL franchise colours. But Chakravarthy is still a 'mystery'. Not many know about him. He is believed to a multi-talented bowler, who can bowl as many as seven variations – Off break, Legbreak, Googly, Carrom ball, Flipper, Topspinner, Slider. The 27-year-old architect can also keeps wicket. A lot to look forward.
6:14 PM IST: Here are the likely XIs:
RR: Ajinkya Rahane (c), Jos Buttler (wk), Steven Smith, Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Rahul Tripathi K Gowtham, Shreyas Gopal, Jofra Archer, Jaydev Unadkat, Varun Aaron
KXIP: Chris Gayle, KL Rahul (wk), Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Nicholas Pooran, Mandeep Singh, R Ashwin (c), Sam Curran, Varun Chakravarthy, Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb Ur Rahman
6:00 PM IST: Before the toss, let's have some key numbers from the past encounters between these two teams:
- RR lead head-to-head record 10-17 in 17 meetings. Last season, it was 1-1;
- Highest total in this fixture is 221/3 by KXIP in 2018, while the lowest is 112/7 by RR in 2009;
- Shaun Marsh (RR) has most runs, 409. The Aussie batsman also has the highest individual score, 115 in 2008. He also has the most sixes (17) and fours (39) too;
- Piyush Chawla (KXIP) has the most wickets (14), while the West Indian Kevon Cooper the best bowling figures, 4/26 in 2012.
5:30 PM IST: First round of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019 completes today with this clash. In the season opener, MS Dhoni's defending champions Chennai Super Kings defeated Virat Kohli's Royal Challengers Bangalore on Saturday. Then in the first double-header of the season, Andre Russell anchored Kolkata Knight Riders' successful chase against SunRisers Hyderabad with a devastating knock even as comeback man David Warner impressed for the last year's runners-up. Sunday night capped off with a blinder from Rishabh Pant, who helped Delhi Capitals humbled three-time champions Mumbai Indians.
Rajasthan Royals, which made a comeback to the league in 2018 after serving a two-year ban over spot-fixing and betting charges, had advanced to the play-offs last season but could not go further. The Ajinkya Rahane-led side will definitely aim to start the season 12 on a positive note.
Kings XI Punjab, which could not reach the play-offs last year, are expected to perform on a different note this year after retaining, as well as pocketing, some valuable players in the auction.
Royals will expect a lot from Steve Smith. But it is yet to be known whether the Australian will make to the playing eleven or not as he has not fully recovered from an elbow injury.
Overall, Ben Stokes will once again be the go-to man for the Royals who has the ability to fire both with the bat and the ball.
KXIP: KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Andrew Tye, Mayank Agarwal, Ankit Rajpoot, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Karun Nair, David Miller and Ravichandran Ashwin (captain), Moises Henriques, Nicholas Pooran, Varun Chakravarthy, Sam Curran, Mohammad Shami, Sarfaraz Khan, Hardus Viljoen, Arshdeep Singh, Darshan Nalkande, Prabhsimran Singh, Agnivesh Ayachi, Harpreet Brar, and Murugan Ashwin
RR:Ajinkya Rahane (captain), Krishnappa Gowtham, Sanju Samson, Shreyas Gopal, Aryaman Birla, S. Midhun, Prashant Chopra, Stuart Binny, Rahul Tripathi, Ben Stokes, Steve Smith, Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer, Ish Sodhi, Dhawal Kulkarni, Mahipal Lomror, Jaydev Unadkat, Varun Aaron, Oshane Thomas, Shashank Singh, Liam Livingstone, Shubham Rajane, Manan Vohra, Ashton Turner, Riyan Parag