PTI 6 April : Shikhar Dhawan and Prabhsimran Singh smashed classy half-centuries before Nathan Ellis‘ exploits with the ball guided Punjab Kings to a nervy five-run victory over Rajasthan Royals in an IPL match, in Guwahati on Wednesday. Young Prabhsimran (60) and veteran skipper Dhawan (86 not out) pummelled the Rajasthan Royals attack to propel Punjab Kings to a challenging 197 for 4 after being asked to bat. The Royals were then blown away by Ellis (4/30) before Shimron Hetmyer (35) and young ‘Impact Player’ Dhruv Jurel (32 not out off 15) stitched a 62-run partnership to get Rajasthan back in the game.
But IPL’s costliest overseas recruit Sam Curran, justified his top billing, by brilliantly defending 15 in the last over to restrict the Royals to 192 for 7.
Pacer Arshdeep Singh provided the early breakthrough as accounted fro both openers. The Royals sent Ravichandran Ashwin to open in place of Jos Buttler, who had walked off the filed grimacing after taking Shahrukh Khan’s catch earlier on.
Yashasvi Jaiswal was first to go as he sent the ball straight the fielder. The Ashwin experiment also failed as the senior spinner perished for a duck.
Coming at No. 3 Buttler, hit an 11-ball-19. He was dropped in the third over but couldn’t much as he became Ellis’ first victim of the night.
Skipper Sanju Samson (42 off 25) looked in good nick as he timed the ball well. He smacked Harpreet Brar for back to back boundaries before greeting Ellis with twin fours. Rajasthan were 89 for 3 at the halfway mark. But the Punjab bowlers managed to dry out the boundaries and with the required run rate increasing Samson succumbed under the pressure and mistimed a a cross seamer by Ellis.
Ellis then sent back local favourite Riyan Parag (20 off 12) who played a quick cameo and Devdutt Padikal (21) packing before Hetmyer and Jurel hit a flurry of sixes and fours to bring the equation down to 15 off the last over.
Earlier, Prabhsimran, who hit seven fours and three sixes, mercilessly punished the Rajasthan bowlers during the first 10 overs to bring up his IPL maiden fifty off 28 balls as Punjab was off to a rollicking start. He and Dhawan added 90 runs for the opening stand off just 61 balls.
On the other hand, Dhawan, switched gears effortlessly as he was 30 off 30 balls at one stage playing second fiddle to Prabhsimran. Once his opening partner was dismissed, Dhawan upped the ante as he scored 56 off next 26 balls that he faced.
The Punjab Kings skipper was dropped on 50 and made most of his reprieve as he played the role of sheet anchor, ensuring his team had enough runs on the board with dew setting in. His inning was studded with nine fours and three maximums that came in the second half.
Prabhsimran started by smacking Trent Boult for lacerating drive in the first over, making his intentions clear. He followed that up by slapping a six over backward square off KM Asif in the second over. Dhawan joined the party briefly with back-to-back fours in the next over.
But the young opener was brutal on Asif, whom he hammered for three fours and a six in the fourth over. He also didn’t spare Boult and Ashwin.
The 22-year-old first smacked a length ball over mid off before cutting one behind point for a second boundary. He followed that up with a short-arm pull over the midwicket region for a maximum.
The introduction of spin didn’t bother Prabhsimran either as he continued his boundary hitting spree, hitting Ashwin to two consecutive fours as Punjab raced to 63/0 in the Powerplay.
With a half-century in his kitty, Prabhsimran welcomed back Boult for his second spell with a flat-batted six down the ground.
His fabulous innings came to an end, courtesy Jason Holder and Buttler, who took a sensational catch, diving forward from long on.
Punjab were handed another blow as Dhawan’s powerful drive hit the big-hitting Bhanuka Rajapaksa in his right arm, forcing the Sri Lankan to retire hurt on 1.
A spectator for most part of Prabhsimran’s innings, Dhawan upped the ante as he played some well-timed shots to get to his half century in 36 balls.
Jitesh Sharma showcased his batting proweress in his 15-ball 27 that included in 89m monstrous six off Boult.
Spinners Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal were able to stem the run flow momentarily as they picked the wickets of Jitesh and Sikandra Raza in quick succession.
Holder (2/29) then took a wicket and conceded just seven runs to restrict Punjab under the 200-run mark.