Rajasthan Royals bounced back in style after four consecutive defeats with a convincing 43-run win over Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium here tonight.
It was a good all-round effort by the 2008 champions and the win propelled them to the fifth position in the nine-team T20 tournament with 10 points from 11 matches.
Kings XI, who suffered a loss after two good wins, also have 10 points but are a step behind Rajasthan on the basis of net run rate.
Opting to bat first, Rajasthan Royals rode on a good show by skipper Rahul Dravid's 46 to pile up 177 for six in their 20 overs..
And some tight bowling by Johan Botha (2-21), Shane Watson (2-22) and Shaun Tait (2-18) helped them restrict Kings XI Punjab to 134 for eight. Watson, who also struck a 17-ball 36, was adjudged Man of the Match.
But what will haunt the Rajasthan Royals is their poor fielding performance. They could have wrapped up the match much earlier but dropped three easy catches.
While chasing, Kings XI Punjab made a poor start as they lost batsmen Mandeep Singh (7) and Nitin Saini (2) inside six overs. Captain David Hussey (8) also departed soon. Shaun Marsh. however, kept the scoreboard ticking with his 27-ball 34, but the Australian also followed his skipper back as Kings XI hopes faded soon.
Former Pakistan all-rounder Azhar Mahmood (24) put up a brief fight but not enough.
Earlier, Rajasthan lost their top run getter Ajinkya Rahane (5) in the second over, leaving Dravid (46) and Watson (36) to give them a good start with their 69-run partnership for the second wicket.
Dravid was in great touch hitting eight fours in his 39-ball innings. He was also involved in a crucial partnership with young Ashok Menaria (34).
Ryan Harris was the pick of the Kings XI bowlers bagging four for 34 while leggie Piyush Chawla go two for 38.
Dravid said Tait added some spice to Royals attack
"He created some element of doubt in the batsmen. Conditions made us go for the five changes. It was a good performance by batsmen to get to 177. We have lost a couple of close games, but that is the nature of the competition, we need to play well," he said.
Watson said the PCA track helped pacers.
"The wicket was something similar to what we get at home, pace and bounce helped me a lot and I enjoyed bowling here. Owe a lot to IPL, love coming to IPL. Loved working with different characters Warne and Rahul. I think Rahul's a bit understated in every aspect of life," he said.
Rahul Dravid c Awana b Harris 46
Ajinkya Rahane c Saini b Harris 5
Shane Watson c Harris b Chawla 36
Ashok Menaria c Gurkeerat b Chawla 34
Brad Hodge c Marsh b Harris 36
Johan Botha not out 14
Stuart Binny c Marsh b Harris 0
Extras (lb 2, w 3, nb 1) 6
Total (for six wickets in 20 overs) 177
Fall of wickets: 1-7 (Rahane, 1.2 overs), 2-76 (Watson, 7.5), 3-117 (Dravid, 13.2), 4-133 (Menaria, 15.6), 5-176 (Hodge, 19.4), 6-177 (Binny, 19.6)
Praveen Kumar 4-0-32-0
Ryan Harris 4-0-34-4
Parvinder Awana 4-0-34-0
Azhar Mahmood 4-0-37-0
Piyush Chawla 4-0-38-2
Kings XI Punjab:
Shaun Marsh b Botha 34
Mandeep Singh c Trivedi b Watson 7
Nitin Saini c & b Tait 2
David Hussey c Hodge b Trivedi 8
Azhar Mahmood b Binny 24
Gurkeerat Singh c & b Botha 23
Abhishek Nayar not out 9
Ryan Harris c Botha b Tait 3
Praveen Kumar not out 7
Extras (lb 5, w 6, nb 1) 12
Total (for eight wickets in 20 overs) 134
Fall of wickets: 1-8 (Mandeep, 1.3 overs), 2-29 (Saini, 5.3), 3-55 (Hussey, 7.3), 4-59 (Marsh, 8.3), 5-95 (Azhar, 14.5), 6-112 (Gurkeerat Singh, 16.3), 7-120 (Chawla, 17.3), 8-123 (Harris, 18.2)
Ankeet Chavan 3-0-32-0
Shane Watson 4-1-22-2
Shaun Tait 4-0-18-2
Johan Botha 4-0-21-2
Stuart Binny 1-0-8-1
Toss Rajasthan Royals, who chose to bat
Result: Rajasthan Royals won by 43 runs
Umpires: Johan Cloete (South Africa) and Simon Taufel (Australia)
TV umpire: S.Ravi
Match referee: Andy Pycroft (Zimbabwe)