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Royals continue play-off push

After Cooper restricts Punjab,Rahane helps Rajasthan claim ninth win of campaign

Written by Nitin Sharma | Mohali | Published: May 10, 2013 4:52:26 am

Samson didn’t disappoint,yet again showcasing his stroke-making skills. Rahane,continued at his own pace hitting three sixes,and the duo took the Royals over the line,with Samson remaining not out on 47 off 33 balls.

If you had to pick two names as favourites to win a Mr Congeniality contest on a cricket field,Rahul Dravid and Adam Gilchrist are sure to be the leading contenders. They are the most admired men to have graced a cricket field. In the former Australian’s case,the stand-out facet being his penchant for walking without waiting for the umpire’s decision—at times even when the opposition is yet to appeal.

On Thursday at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium,however,Gilchrist was run-out and he stood his ground. Instead,the Kings XI Punjab skipper even ended up exchanging a few words with Rajasthan’s Ajit Chandila,resulting in Dravid having to intervene. Nobody could have blamed Gilchrist for his state of agitation though. The run-out had come about through a freak incident anyway.

It was the third over of Punjab’s innings,and Shaun Marsh had stroked a ball from Chandila towards Shane Watson. While the batsman wasn’t interested in the run,Gilchrist had set off from the non-striker’s end. Watson’s throw at the stumps then hit the Punjab skipper’s gloves and ricocheted towards Chandila,who duly took off the bails. Gilchrist was still out of his crease,and not too chuffed about the outcome.

Mature knock

And it took another memorable show of sportmanship to sort the issue out,as Dravid withdrew the appeal,allowing Gilchrist to continue his innings. While the two veterans provided yet another example of their gentlemanly disposition,Ajinkya Rahane continued to enhance his reputation of being among the brightest batting talents in the country. Remaining unbeaten on 59 off 49 balls,he took his team home to a comfortable eight-wicket win and a likely spot in the playoffs stage of IPL VI with another mature match-winning knock.

It was a match,which the visitors needed to win to progress past the first stage of the tournament for the first time since 2008. And despite his early dismissal,Dravid,who was bowled by Bipul Sharma in the second over,had plenty of reasons to smile in the end,especially with Rahane and Watson carrying over their good run of form into this crucial contest.

The target wasn’t a very challenging one. But Punjab had proven more than once that they are a team capable of pulling off a heist on their home ground. The onus was on the Royals’ top-order to hold firm despite the early loss of their skipper. And they did just that,adding 66 for the second wicket with a mix of caution and aggression. With Watson’s departure,bowled by a bizarrely quick delivery from Piyush Chawla,walked Rajasthan’s young sensation Sanju Samson.

Samson on a roll

The teenaged Kerala wicket-keeper didn’t disappoint,yet again showcasing his stroke-making skills along with his awe-inspiring temperament. Rahane,meanwhile,continued at his own pace hitting three sixes,and the duo took the Royals over the line in style,with Samson remaining not out on 47 off 33 balls,a knock that included five fours and a six.

Earlier in the afternoon,Gilchrist made the most of his counterpart’s benevolence and brought up his best score of the tournament with a breezy 32-ball 42. He also added 102 runs for the second wicket with Marsh,who led the way for the home team with 77 off 64 balls. The rest of the Punjab batting though caved in against Kevon Cooper’s canny change of pace,and eventually could only muster a total of 145 for 6 in their 20 overs.

Even David Miller didn’t fire for a change,as Rajasthan continued their impressive run in IPL VI,climbing to No.2 in the points-table.

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