Kings XI Punjab beat Delhi Daredevils by six wickets at Mohali in their Indian Premier League opener
IPL 2018: India's Lokesh Rahul proves to be a man for all formats after scoring league's fastest fifty for Punjab
Once again Lokesh Rahul proved his ability to make an impact in any form of the game as the King XI Punjab opener scored the fastest half-century in Indian Premier League (IPL) history on Sunday.
Rahul is one of only three India batsmen to score a hundred in all three formats at international level – the others being Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma. His innings was a not-so-gentle reminder to previous team Royal Challengers Bangalore on what they were missing by not retaining him.
The right-hander reached his fifty off just 14 deliveries, hitting four sixes and six fours. Even though he got out shortly after, he had set the home team up for a six-wicket win over Delhi Daredevils at Mohali. It was a good start for captain Ravichandran Ashwin, who opted to field first after winning the toss – a good decision in hindsight as Delhi were restricted to 166-7 in 20 overs.
Ashwin’s opposite number, Gautam Gambhir, led from the front with a 42-ball 55. There were also cameos from Rishabh Pant and Chris Morris. But Rahul showed Delhi’s total was within Punjab’s reach as they won with seven balls to spare.
Sunrisers Hyderabad will host Rajasthan Royals today with both sides looking to move past the ball-tampering episode involving David Warner and Steve Smith, which will have dogged both teams’ IPL preparations. The Australia duo have been barred from playing in the tournament this year for their roles in the scandal that rocked cricket two weeks ago.
As far as replacements go, both teams have done well, with Hyderabad replacing Warner with England opener Alex Hales, while Rajasthan signed Proteas wicketkeeper Heinrich Klaasen in place of Smith.
Their battle is likely to be one between Hyderabad’s bowling and Rajasthan’s batting.
The hosts have in their ranks Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan, who recently broke the record for the fastest to 100 wickers in one-day internationals, as well as seasoned Indian seamers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Sandeep Sharma.
However, aside from the solidity of captain Ajinkya Rahane, Rajasthan possess the X-factor in England all-rounder Ben Stokes.