Buttler on hand to help Royals claim much-needed win
Rajasthan Royals climbed off the foot of the Indian Premier League table with a 15-run victory over third-placed Kings XI Punjab.
KL Rahul made an unbeaten 95 but found little support from his Kings XI colleagues, meaning they fell comfortably short in their attempts to overhaul Rajasthan's total of 158-8 in Jaipur.
Indeed, Marcus Stoinis (11) was the only other player to reach double figures in a Kings XI innings that never recovered from the early loss of Chris Gayle.
They finished on 143-7 even with 16 runs coming off the last over, opener Rahul hitting a six and two fours as he posted his highest score in the Twenty20 competition.
Jos Buttler had earlier led the way with 82 for Rajasthan, who remain in the hunt to reach the play-offs after posting their fourth win of the campaign.
CALLING THE SHOTS
While he failed to reach double figures during his time at the crease, managing just nine from 10 deliveries, Ajinkya Rahane did make a crucial contribution to his team's triumph.
The Royals captain boldly opted to bat first after winning the toss at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, a policy that immediately paid off when opening partner Buttler lunched an onslaught in the powerplay overs.
The England international registered a third successive half-century since his promotion to the top of the order, hitting a solitary six and nine fours in his 58-ball knock.
However, from 82-2 at the halfway stage, Rajasthan struggled in the second half of their innings. Sanju Samson made 22 but Andre Tye (4-34) claimed three wickets in the final over to help restrict the hosts, albeit their final score always looked competitive.
A POSITIVE SPIN
Krishnappa Gowtham (2-12) spun Kings XI's reply into early trouble, including claiming the prized scalp of Gayle for one thanks to some smart work by Buttler, who pulled off a leg-side stumping to dismiss the big-hitting left-hander.
Skipper Ravichandran Ashwin's move up the order failed to pay off as he was bowled for a two-ball duck in the same Gowtham over.
Ish Sodhi also starred for the Royals on a sluggish surface, the New Zealand leg-spinner recording excellent figures of 1-14 from his four-over spell.
Pace on the ball proved more beneficial to the batsmen yet Jofra Archer delivered a succession of yorkers in a 17th over that crucially only leaked four runs, leaving even the in-form Rahul with too much to do in the closing stages.