Hyderabad: Kings XI Punjab, who were on a roll with five successive victories in the Indian Premier League, suffered a seven-wicket loss at the hands of Rajasthan Royals on Friday, to end their winning streak.
Having posted a competitive 185/4 on the back of Chris Gayle’s 99-run knock, Kings XI failed to stop the Royals from chasing the target. Ben Stokes smashed a quickfire half-century inside the powerplay to set up the chase. With this loss, three teams – RR, KKR and KXIP – are on 12 points making it an interesting race for the playoffs.
Punjab team captain KL Rahul said bowling under lights with a lot of dew made it difficult for their bowlers. “I thought we were 10- 15 ahead of par score. After losing Mandeep, Chris (Gayle) played a great knock. He did give us the best chance. I would have bowled if I had won the toss. With a wet ball it gets very difficult. Ball is coming on really nice on to the bat. I am not taking anything away from Royals. They batted beautifully. But we can’t think much about it as bowlers did well in the tournament. One game doesn’t define them,” he said.
Speaking about Gayle’s innings, he said, “I have said this before, he is a huge part of our dressing room. He puts in performances year after year. Everyone loves him and he keeps the group positive. And to see him bat like that, no one will ever say he is 41. He still looks fresh like when he made his IPL debut. We expect one more innings like that from Chris and hopefully we will sneak in (to playoffs).”
Meanwhile, Royals’ Rahul Tewatia was delighted with the win and hoped to seal a playoffs berth with a victory in the next match. “Overall it was a good performance. It was a do-or-die match for us. Our intent was good on the field. The way (Jofra) Archer started, we got the momentum. We thought we could chase 180 to 185 and were confident,” he said.
He was delighted at the fact that the top order has hit the form and making things easy for them. “The batting unit is taking responsibility. Earlier, we were losing wickets in powerplay and middle order under pressure. But now, the top order is clicking. Ben Stokes is providing a great start. And our bowling has always been good,” said the leg-spinner.
With the race for the fourth spot in playoffs set for a close finish, their only aim is to win the next match and hope for some luck. “We are focused on our next match. We need to win it (against Kolkata Knight Riders) and hope for some luck,” he concluded.
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