The Rajasthan Royals have kept themselves alive in Indian Premier League 2018 with a 15-run victory over the Kings XI Punjab at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on Tuesday (May 8). It was a strong bowling display from the hosts, as they defended a total of 158 against the powerful batting line-up of the Punjab franchise.
Ajinkya Rahane won the toss and in a decision that proved to be crucial in the context of the game, decided to bat first on a tricky surface. Jos Buttler continued to be a revelation at the top of the Royals batting order, as he scored his third consecutive fifty of the tournament and powered the hots to a competitive total in the first innings.
The swashbuckling pair of KL Rahul and Chris Gayle opened the batting for the visitors and it seemed as if the target was a little too small for their powerful willows. RR affected two quick dismissals in the third over of the game, though, and the game that was tilting in KXIP's favour till then seemed to find balance in it.
However, the Turning Point of the match came when Ish Sodhi was handed the ball by Rahane in the 7th over of the game. His entire bowling spell was brilliant on the day, and it not only created problems for the Punjab batsmen but turned the game on its head. In his quota of four overs, the Kiwi spinner gave away just 14 runs and scalped the wicket of debutant Akshdeep Nath.
More than the stats and figures that he churned in the game, it was the impact of his bowling on the psyche of the visitors' batsmen that helped RR clinch victory on the day. Sodhi reaped the benefits of a pitch that was turning like it was set for the fourth day of a Test match, while terrorizing the opposition with the turn, bounce, and precision on his deliveries.
It was an incredible display of spin-bowling from the 25-year-old and one that would probably help him retain his place in the side, at least in the next couple of games that will be played by the Royals.
Despite the loss they suffered on the day, Kings XI Punjab are still in a pretty comfortable position, at Number 3 on the points table. KL Rahul is creating waves with his consistent and commendable performances at the top of the order and is now the leading run-scorer of the tournament.
The Rajasthan Royals, on the other hand, have given themselves a lifeline in the tournament. They were struggling at the bottom of the points table before this game, but have now climbed to the sixth position after clinching two points after it.
However, if they wish to make it to the playoffs this season, they cannot afford another slip-up in any of their subsequent matches. They have four stern tests in the form of MI, CSK, KKR, and RCB next, and they must look to win all these encounters to make it to the top four at the end of the league stage.
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