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The Rajasthan Royals ended their 4 matches losing run in style today in Mohali, routing the Kings XI Punjab by 43 runs in a rare one-sided contest in this season's IPL. The result leaves both teams locked at 10 points from 11 games, giving them a very slim chance of making the knockout rounds of the competition. Batting first, the Rajasthan Royals posted a very competitive 177/6 on an excellent cricket wicket in Mohali which had something in it for both the batsmen and the quick bowlers. Skipper Rahul Dravid led the way for his side with an excellent 46, while 30s from Shane Watson, Brad Hodge and Ashok Menaria helped boost the score. The Kings XI Punjab were never really in the hunt, failing to make the most of the powerplay overs, and falling well behind the asking rate right from the start. Two wickets a piece for the international trio of Shaun Tait, Shane Watson and Johan Botha helped to accelerate Kings XI's demise in a disappointing contest.
The Rajasthan Royals won the toss and opted to make first use of the pitch. While the hosts made just the one change replacing Paras Dogra with Gurkeerat Singh, Rajasthan changed things dramatically with Shaun Tait, Johan Botha, Sidharth Trivedi, Dishant Yagnik and Stuart Binny all getting a game in a completely refurbished line-up. Owais Shah and Brad Hogg were the notable international absentees.
The Royals were rocked early, losing the orange cap holder Ajinkya Rahane for 5 in just the second over of the game, edging a short-wide delivery from Ryan Harris through to the keeper. Rahul Dravid looked solid from the other end, but it was Shane Watson who exploded in the powerplay, helping Rajasthan post an exceptional 64 runs for the loss of the aforementioned Rahane. Watson had smashed his way to 36 from just 17 deliveries courtesy 4 boundaries and 2 sixes before an excellent diving catch from Ryan Harris saw Piyush Chawla add to his 12 wickets in the tournament thus far.
Rahul Dravid and Ashok Menaria provided stability to the Rajasthan innings, adding 41 runs for the fourth wicket before the former fell for 46 to Harris. Menaria, who had benefitted from a dropped catch in the 15th over, fell to Chawla in the next one for 34 to leave Rajasthan's innings interestingly poised at 133/4 from 16 overs.
Brad Hodge provided the late charge the innings needed, smashing 36 from 23 balls before falling in the final over to a full toss from Ryan Harris. Harris also picked up the wicket of Stuart Binny for naught on the last ball to finish with 4-34. Rajasthan though still finished with a very competitive 177/6.
The Kings XI Punjab made a poor start to their chase posting just 33 runs in the powerplay for the loss of two wickets. Both of Punjab's youngsters who had impressed this season - Mandeep Singh (7) and Nitin Saini (2) - struggled against quality bowling falling to Shane Watson and Shaun Tait respectively. Shaun Marsh had also struggled initially, scoring just 15 runs from 18 balls faced in the powerplay. The Aussie left-hander though took his chances against Ankeet Chavan smashing him for 18 runs in the 7th over.
Pune though ensured that the match stayed very much in their grasp by picking up the massive wickets of Dave Hussey (8) and Shaun Marsh (34) in consecutive overs. Hussey fell to the returning Siddharth Trivedi in his opening over, caught pulling, while Botha disturbed Marsh's furniture to knock the stuffings out of Rajasthan's top order.
Azhar Mahmood and Gurkeerat Singh had the responsibility to stabilize the innings, and took the side through to 82/4 at the end of 13 overs. Mahmood had benefitted from a rare dropped catch from Brad Hodge, but his luck ran out in the 15th over with Stuart Binny cleaning him up for 24. Gurkeerat Singh also received a couple of lives, dropped twice in Siddharth Trivedi's over, but fell to Johan Botha for 23 as the Kings XI lost their 6th wicket.
Punjab by then were well out of the reckoning, and Rajasthan further pressed home their advantage by removing Piyush Chawla (5) and Ryan Harris (3). Punjab did well to bat out their 20 overs, finishing at 134/8, losing this game by 43 runs in the end.
The Royals continue to be on the road next week as they head over to the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium in Pune to take on an equally out of form Pune Warriors on Tuesday afternoon. The Kings XI Punjab meanwhile are also on the road. They head over to Hyderabad as the Deccan Chargers play their first game of the season at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Uppal also on Tuesday.
Kings XI Punjab: N Saini (wk), M Singh, S Marsh, DJ Hussey (c), A Mahmood, A Nayar, R Harris, P Chawla, P Kumar, P Awana, Gurkeerat Singh.
Rajasthan Royals: R Dravid (c), A Rahane, S Watson, D Yagnik (wk), A Menaria, B Hodge, S Binny, J Botha, A Chavan, S Tait, S Trivedi.
Rajasthan Royals 177/6 (20 overs, 8.85rpo)
R Dravid 46 (39) R Harris 4-34
S Watson 36 (17) P Chawla 2-38
Kings XI Punjab 134/8 (20 overs, 6.7rpo)
S Marsh 34 (27) J Botha 2-21
A Mahamood 24 (24) S Tait 2-18
Rajasthan win by 43 runs
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