Date: 21st April 2015, 8 pm

Venue: Sardar Patel Stadium, Ahmedabad

Toss: Kings XI Punjab, who chose to field

Result: Kings XI Punjab won Super over

MoM: Shaun Marsh

The first return fixture of Pepsi IPL 2015 turned out to be a thrilling contest as the Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab finished with identical scores at the end of 40 overs of the regular contest and it needed a Super Over to decide which of the two teams would take home the two points from the match.

Chris Morris began the super-over contest by getting David Miller lbw off the first ball with a straight low full-toss. Shaun Marsh, who was fresh from his scintillating knock of 65 off 40 balls, creamed three deliveries for fours to give the Royals a target of 16.

Kings XI wrapped up things with three balls left. First Mitchell Johnson dismissed Shane Watson off the first ball with a scorching yorker and then Wriddhiman Saha affected a run-out after James Faulkner missed a slower one.

Hence, the Kings broke the Royals’ winning streak in Pepsi IPL 2015.

Powered by Marsh, who was playing his first match of the season, KXIP showed guts to chase down 192. Despite not getting the best of starts, KXIP recovered through a late charge from David Miller, his partnership with Marsh, and useful cameos from the late middle-order.

Reduced to 59 for 3 in the ninth over, KXIP decided it was time to move on and put the pressure back on the hosts. Marsh and Miller stitched together a 58-run partnership that kept KXIP in the contest. Marsh raced to 50 off 32 balls, and carried on to 65 before he didn’t pick a Pravin Tambe googly and holed out to Rahane at long-on. Miller celebrated his return to the KXIP XI with a stroke-filled half-century, getting to the milestone in 29 balls.

With both batsmen playing an aggressive brand of cricket and finding the boundary frequently, it appeared KXIP would chase down the runs. However, their dismissals once again put the match in the balance. Marsh was dismissed in the 15th over, while Miller (54 from 30 balls, 1 four, 5 sixes) was dismissed in the 18th over with his team still needing 26 from 13 balls. Axar Patel and Mitchell Johnson only managed 25 runs, which resulted in the two teams contesting in the first Super Over of the season.

For RR, Stuart Binny (2-0-13-0) and Tambe (3-0-20-1) were the pick of the bowlers. Chris Morris, Rahul Tewatia and Deepak Hooda were the other wicket-takers.

Earlier in the evening, RR rode on a solid partnership between the openers to post a challenging total. There was a method in the way Ajinkya Rahane and Shane Watson operated. Watson struck the first boundary of the innings, but struggled to force the pace through the rest of the initial overs. When the fielding restrictions were relaxed at the end of six overs, RR had 43 runs on the board; Watson had scored 10 off 19 balls, while Rahane had raced to 29 from 17 balls with the help of five boundaries.

Rahane firmed up his position at the top of the Orange Cap standings scoring his third consecutive half-century and finishing as RR’s top-scorer. The right-hander batted sensibly, and played some crisp strokes without taking any unnecessary risks; he pierced the fields with precision, played some eye-candy whip shots off deliveries on the pads and drives through the off-side. He was eventually dismissed in the eighteenth over – with the RR score reading 162 – when he attempted to chase a wide delivery from Mitchell Johnson, but only managed to feather the ball to the wicket-keeper. He made 74 from 54 balls and hit six boundaries and two sixes.

Watson, who had struggled in the first six overs, cashed in when Shivam Sharma was introduced into the attack in the ninth over. The Australian hit the off-spinner for three fours and a six, and followed it up with a six off Axar Patel in the next over. He made 45 from 35 balls – during which he hit five boundaries and two sixes – before he was beaten by an arm ball by Axar Patel and was stumped by an alert Wriddhiman Saha. His partnership with Rahane lasted 11.3 overs and benefitted the team to the extent of 95 runs.

Given the platform they had, it was surprising to see RR experiment with their batting order, rather than not going for the jugular. Deepak Hooda was promoted to number three, and the youngster responded with a nine-ball 19. Karun Nair, batting ahead of James Faulkner, impressed too, scoring 25 off 13 balls. Stuart Binny and Sanju Samson gave the innings the finishing touches scoring 17 off six deliveries together as RR finished their innings at 191 for 6.

For Kings XI Punjab, the left-arm spinner Axar Patel was the most successful bowler returning figures of two for 30. Sandeep Sharma was impressive yet again, but had only one wicket to show for his efforts.

Brief Scores:

Rajasthan Royals: 191-6 in 20.0 Overs (Ajinkya Rahane 74, Axar Patel 2-30)

Kings XI Punjab: 191-6 in 20.0 Overs (Shaun Marsh 65, David Miller 54, Pravin Tambe 1-20)

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