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Hetmyer’s blitz propels Rajasthan Royals to the top of the table

Hetmyer’s blitz propels Rajasthan Royals to the top of the table

Rajasthan Royals showcased a stellar bowling performance but faced a challenging chase of 147 on a tricky pitch at Mullanpur. The game, which seemed like a routine chase, turned tense as the league leaders needed 34 off 18 balls. Shimron Hetmyer’s quickfire 27* off 10 balls steered the team to their fifth win of IPL 2024 off the penultimate delivery. The defeat marked the fourth loss of the season for Punjab Kings, keeping them in the bottom half of the table.

A-list players absent in the clash

Both teams missed key players in this match due to injuries. While Punjab Kings welcomed back Liam Livingstone, they had to do without their captain Shikhar Dhawan. Atharva Taide took Dhawan’s place in the XI, while Sam Curran captained the side. On the other hand, Rajasthan Royals were without Jos Buttler and R. Ashwin, with Tanush Kotian and Rovman Powell making their IPL debuts. Winning an important toss, Sanju Samson chose to field, giving his team the advantage of chasing.

Punjab’s powerplay struggles continue

Punjab Kings have had a tough time in the powerplay, with three of the five lowest powerplay scores in IPL 2024 belonging to them. In this match, they further struggled without their regular opener Shikhar Dhawan. Although Taide started well with a couple of boundaries, PBKS struggled thereafter. After losing Taide to Avesh Khan, Jonny Bairstow and Prabhsimran Singh found it difficult to score, and PBKS ended the powerplay at a modest 38/1.

Maharaj and Chahal’s spin magic

Spin proved to be effective for Rajasthan Royals, with Yuzvendra Chahal striking in his first over, removing Prabhsimran Singh. Keshav Maharaj then got Bairstow to chip a catch to extra cover. Maharaj also dismissed stand-in skipper Sam Curran, leaving PBKS struggling at 53/4 at the halfway mark. Ashutosh Sharma came in as an impact substitute to bolster PBKS’ batting.

PBKS fight back with lower middle-order heroics

PBKS relied on their lower middle-order to rebuild the innings. Jitesh Sharma played a key role, hitting a six and a four off Kuldeep Sen. Liam Livingstone also contributed with a quickfire cameo. However, it was Ashutosh Sharma who provided the finishing touches with two sixes and a four in the final over, taking PBKS to a competitive total of 147/8.

Jaiswal and Kotian steady the chase

Opening for Rajasthan Royals, Yashasvi Jaiswal and Tanush Kotian navigated through the powerplay without losing a wicket. Jaiswal looked fluent, scoring 23 off 16 balls, while Kotian struggled for his 24 off 31 balls. However, Livingstone dismissed Kotian, opening a window of opportunity for PBKS.

Rabada’s double blow brings PBKS back

Kagiso Rabada struck twice, dismissing Jaiswal and Samson, bringing PBKS back into the game. Rabada finished with figures of 2 for 18, tightening the screws on the Royals’ chase. Riyan Parag and Sam Curran also fell cheaply, leaving Rajasthan needing 34 off 18 balls.

Hetmyer’s explosive finish seals the win

Facing Harshal Patel in the 18th over, Hetmyer smashed a boundary and a six, turning the game in Rajasthan’s favor. Rovman Powell then hit Sam Curran for two fours in the 19th over. Although Curran dismissed Powell and Maharaj, Arshdeep was left to defend 10 off the final over. Hetmyer smashed a six off the third ball, sealing a thrilling win for Rajasthan Royals.

Brief scores: Punjab Kings 147/8 in 20 overs (Ashutosh Sharma 31; Keshav Maharaj 2-23, Avesh Khan 2-34) lost to Rajasthan Royals 152/7 in 19.5 overs (Yashasvi Jaiswal 39, Shimron Hetmyer 27*; Kagiso Rabada 2-18, Sam Curran 2-25) by three wickets.

What’s next for the teams?

Punjab Kings will host Mumbai Indians on April 18, while Rajasthan Royals will travel to face Kolkata Knight Riders on April 16.

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