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Indian Premier League: Rajasthan snatch victory from Punjab in final over

The Rajasthan Royals restricted the punchless Kings XI Punjab to 124 in their Indian Premier League match and move from sixth to third in league standings.

Rajasthan Royals batsman Ajinkya Rahane, right, shown here during a meeting last year with Kings XI Punjab, plays a shot during an IPL Twenty20 cricket match.  Raveendram / AP Photo
Rajasthan Royals batsman Ajinkya Rahane, right, shown here during a meeting last year with Kings XI Punjab, plays a shot during an IPL Twenty20 cricket match. Raveendram / AP Photo

Punjab        124 (18.5 ov)
Rajasthan  126/4 (19.2 ov)

Toss Rajasthan, chose to field

Punjab Hussey 41, Mahmood 23; Kumar 2-10, Chawla 1-22

Rajasthan Rahane 34, Watson 32; Sreesanth 2-20, Trivedi 2-21

Man of the match JP Faulkner (Rajasthan Royals)

MOHALI // A low-scoring match never quite reached great heights at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium in Jaipur on Sunday night.

Rajasthan Royals played host to Kings XI Punjab, chose to field after winning the toss and restricted Punjab to 124. But it took until the last over for Rajasthan to pass the target, the win taking them from sixth place to third in the Indian Premier League points table.

By the fourth over, Punjab were stuttering at 10 for three against Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and Ajit Chandila. Adam Gilchrist and Mandeep Singh got out to injudicious strokes and Manan Vohra tried to sneak a run not there.

If it had not been for David Hussey's enterprise, things would have gone completely to pieces for Punjab. Hussey hit four fours and a six in his 31-ball 41 even as Gurkeerat Singh Mann and Rajagopal Sathish became wickets four and five for Rajasthan.

Once Hussey was dismissed, caught by Rahul Dravid on the second attempt off Siddharth Trivedi, it was over to Azhar Mahmood to take the score towards respectability. He played his part with a 20-ball 23, but the late impetus was provided by Praveen Kumar, who hit 15 from seven balls.

Sanju Samson, the young Kerala wicketkeeper, began his IPL career on a high note. He had a couple of straightforward catches as well as a stunner, diving to where first slip would have been to send back Sathish off Faulkner. Later, he kept his cool to run out Praveen with a direct hit.

A pitch with a true bounce and a lightning-quick outfield should have meant a relatively easy time for the Rajasthan batsmen, and while Shane Watson was out there, it was. Watson hit seven boundaries in his 19-ball 32, before being caught by Mandeep at mid-on off Parvinder Awana in the fifth over with the total on 43.

But, with the match getting away from his team, Gilchrist chose to bowl out Praveen, who had bowled his first three overs for just 10 runs, and what an over it was. Gilchrist rolled back the years to pull off two almost identical one-handed catches to his right as Dravid and then Stuart Binny chased outswingers to get healthy edges, and Praveen ended his spell with two for 10. Ryan Harris and Awana were expensive, but Mahmood kept things tight in the middle overs and with Piyush Chawla sending back Brad Hodge, things did start getting tight.

Ajinkya Rahane, in collaboration with Samson, ticked off the runs. Rahane ended not out on 34 from 42 balls while Samson, playing a little gem, hit a boundary to seal the win, remaining unbeaten on 27 from 23 balls.

Shamya Dasgupta is a senior editor at Wisden India.

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