New Delhi | Jagran Sports Desk: A fiery knock of 99 off just 63 balls by Chris Gayle went in vain as Rajasthan Royals beat Kings XI Punjab by seven wickets at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium on Friday to keep their hopes to qualify for the playoffs of the Indian Premier League 2020 alive.

Chasing a total of 187, Rajasthan got off to a solid start, with opener Ben Stokes bringing up his half-century off just 25 balls in the powerplay. Sanju Samson took charge of the run chase in the middle overs after the dismissals of openers and, together with skipper Steve Smith, nearly cruised through the total. Punjab failed to mount pressure on Rajasthan after Samson's dismissal and the lost the game in the 18th over. None of the five Rajasthan players scored below 20, and barring Robin Uthappa, all scored with a strike rate of over 150.

“Ebbed and flowed. But would have been great to win a few in the middle. But it is about peaking at the right time. We still need to do our bit. We have different plans as to who goes in after who goes out,” Rajasthan skipper Steve Smith said after the match. 

Invited to bat first, Kings XI Punjab got off to a poor start, with Jofra Archer dismissing opener Mandeep Singh for a duck in the first over of the innings. A flurry of sixes by Chris Gayle steadied Punjab's innings in the powerplay. Gayle marched on after KL Rahul's dismissal and guided the team to 185 -- a total that proved to be below par in a pitch that favoured batsmen in the second innings. 

“It was a horrible toss to lose to be honest,” KL Rahul said after the match. “It did get very easy to bat later on. There was a lot of dew in the second half and that made it a bit tough for the bowlers to grip the ball. When you’re operating with two leg spinners like we are, it does make things difficult. Don’t think we bowled that badly but need to operate better with the wet ball.”

The race to the playoffs has tightened with Rajasthan's win over Punjab. Both the teams, along with Kolkata Knight Riders, have 12 points in 13 matches each and the latter will need to win its final fixture with a big margin to qualify for the playoffs. 

 

Posted By: Lakshay Raja