It was tipped to be a battle royale between the batsmen of Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab with plenty of sixes predicted. And so it turned out to be at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in their IPL tie on Sunday.
Royals chased down the daunting target of 224 set by Kings XI to post its second win in as many matches. The hero of Rajasthan’s chase —– the highest in IPL history — was Rahul Tewatia, who was promoted up the order at the fall of the second wicket.
Tewatia played the innings of his life, smashing five sixes off Sheldon Cottrell in the 18th over when Royals needed 51 off 18 balls. He had been struggling till then, particularly against leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi.
Though Tewatia wasn’t there when his team got home with three deliveries to spare, his 53 (31b, 7×6) had swung it Royals’ way.
A second-wicket stand of 81 between captain Steve Smith (50, 27b, 7×4, 2×6) and Sanju Samson (85, 42b, 4×4, 7×6) had put the chase on course after the early loss of Jos Buttler.
Samson, who had played a match-changing innings against CSK, came up with yet another stupendous knock.
Earlier, Mayank Agarwal played a stunning knock to power Kings XI to 223. His 106 (50b, 10×4, 7×6) was all about sheer class and timing and less about the slam-bang variety that is often a feature of the shortest format. It was his maiden IPL hundred, and his second in all T20s.
A six over long-off in the second over of the match, bowled by Ankit Rajpoot (who came in for David Miller), set the trend. In the next over, he pulled Jaydev Unadkat over square-leg.
Steve Smith then brought in his spearhead Jofra Archer, who was greeted by Mayank’s opening partner K.L. Rahul greeted Jofra Archer with three successive fours, including two superb cover drives. The Kings XI skipper continued from where he left off against RCB.
Mayank, meanwhile, raced to a half-century off just 26 balls and a hundred off 54, reaching the landmark in style with a lofted shot over extra-cover for four off leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal. He holed out in the next over, though, to Samson at deep mid-wicket off seamer Tom Curran.
Mayank and Rahul’s opening-wicket stand yielded a whopping 183 off just 99 balls. Mayank was joined in the dugout in the following over by Rahul (69, 54b, 7×4, 1×6), who was caught low by Shreyas at the square third-man boundary.
But Nicholas Pooran, who smashed three sixes in an eight-ball 25, ensured that the Kings innings ended with a bang. Not many would have reckoned then that Tewatia would come up with a bigger bang.
Kings XI Punjab: 223 for 2 in 20 overs (Mayank Agarwal 106, KL Rahul 69; Ankit Rajpoot 1/39); Rajasthan Royals: 226 for 6 in 19.3 overs (Sanju Samson 85, Rahul Tewatia 53, Steve Smith 50; Mohammed Shami 3/53).