PUNE,APRIL11: It was James Faulkner’s day at the Gahunje Stadium on Friday as he starred with bat and ball to fashion a 26-run win for Rajasthan Royals over Kings XI Punjab. Faulkner first shored up the Rajasthan innings with Deepak Hooda when it appeared to be faltering. Faulkner scored a 33-ball 46 (2×4; 3×6) before taking 3-26 off his four overs as the much-vaunted Kings XI batting lineup came a cropper.
Chasing 163, Kings got off to a bad start when Virender Sehwag fell for a golden duck. Murali Vijay made 37 in 32 balls and David Miller contributed with 23, but big-hitters Maxwell and Bailey – who fell to a superb catch – failed to fire as the team stuttered to 136/8.
Rajasthan’s winning start also owed much to Sanju Samson’s brilliant show behind the stumps while Steve Smith, leading in Watson’s absence, too impressed earlier in the day.
Hosts Kings XI Punjab’s skipper George Bailey gave the new ball to youngsters Sandeep Sharma and Aruneet Singh rather than one of his big quicks. Both the domestic pacers, backed by their skipper, bowled well right from the first ball. Starting his spell with a maiden, Sharma transferred the confidence to Singh, who got Ajinkya Rahane for a duck on his third delivery.
The next over saw Sharma trap Samson leg before wicket as Royals’ score read 19 for two. Karun Nair and Smith tried to break the bowlers’ dominance but before they could go too far, Nair gave in to an Axar Patel delivery as Rajasthan looked in trouble at 35/3. Smith, however, kept trying to increase the run-rate. He looked settled till his Australian teammate Mitchell Johnson came in to bowl.
The Australian pacer was at his fiery best and both the batsmen, Smith and Stuart Binny, couldn’t even touch a single ball in his first over. The over, though, had five wides and three leg byes.
Johnson got rid of Smith, when he started to open up. On the first delivery of his second over, Smith tried to pull an away going delivery, but could only get a thick edge which went straight to the third man Karanveer Singh.
Smith made 33 from 23 balls. Two balls later, Johnson struck again and this time it was Binny, who nicked one to wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha. Next was debutant Deepak Hooda. A dropped catch, when he was on two, saved his day somewhat. Hooda made the most of the chance by making 30 off 15 balls. His innings included three sixes and a four.
Later, James Faulkner gave Rajasthan’s score respectability.