Punjab survives Dhoni’s charge, Rajasthan beats Bangalore

April 15, 2018
Rajasthan Royals Ben Stokes, right, hugs teammate Sanju Samson as captain Ajinkya Rahane, left, looks on after their win in the VIVO IPL Twenty20 cricket match against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Bangalore, India, Sunday, April 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

MOHALI, India (AP) — Kings XI Punjab survived Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s onslaught to beat Chennai Super Kings by four runs in the Indian Premier League on Sunday.

Earlier, Sanju Samson bludgeoned 92 off 45 balls and spearheaded Rajasthan Royals to a 19-run victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Chennai nearly pulled off its third successive last-over victory before finishing on 193-5 with Dhoni, braving back pain, unbeaten on 79 off 44 balls with six fours and five sixes.

After being put into bat, Chris Gayle made a resounding debut for Punjab by smashing 63 off 33 balls, including seven fours and four sixes in Punjab’s total of 197-7.

“It was a close one, which is important, because it shows you’re competing,” Dhoni said.

Gayle was picked by Punjab at the last minute at his base price of only $312,000 after the hard-hitting West Indies opener was ignored in early IPL auction rounds this year.

Gayle and Lokesh Rahul (37) gave Punjab a lightning start of 96 off just 48 balls, against both pace and experienced spinners Harbhajan Singh (1-41) and Imran Tahir (2-34).

Gayle finally fell in the 12th over when Shane Watson’s short delivery found the edge as the left-hander tried to get away but was caught at fine leg.

“I got a text this morning saying I’m playing,” Gayle said. “But most importantly, we won, which makes me pretty happy.”

Chennai pulled back Punjab from racking up a big total after Gayle’s dismissal and conceded only 43 in the last five overs.

Tahir conceded 17 in his first over against Gayle’s early blitz but took two wickets for 17 more runs in his next three overs.

In reply, Chennai’s Ambati Rayudu (49) looked set to score freely but was brilliantly run out by captain Ravichandran Ashwin off a direct throw in the 14th over.

Dhoni, who received onfield treatment on his back, was patient until the 18th over with Chennai needing 55 runs.

Together with Ravindra Jadeja (19), Dhoni smashed seamers Mohit Sharma (1-47) and Andrew Tye (2-47) for 38 runs before Sharma kept his nerve and conceded 12 in the last over to earn Punjab its second win.

In Bangalore, Samson’s powerful innings featured 10 sixes and two fours as Rajasthan was put into bat and scored 217-4.

Bangalore was restricted to 198-6 in reply, left behind in its run-chase once captain Virat Kohli (57 off 30) and AB de Villiers (20 off 18) holed out in the deep off legspinner Shreyas Gopal (2-22).

Samson took 34 balls to complete his half-century before Rajasthan cut loose in the last five overs and plundered 88 runs.

“I’m feeling good, hitting the ball well, but the tournament has just started,” Samson said.

Jos Buttler scored 23 off 14 as Samson took charge by hitting seven of his 10 sixes off the last 30 balls of the innings.

Seamer Umesh Yadav (0-59) bowled the disastrous last over of the innings, at a cost of 27 runs, as Rajasthan set up host Bangalore for what would have been a record IPL successful run-chase.

Legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal (2-22) was the best bowler for Bangalore and, although Chris Woakes also picked up two wickets, he was expensive and conceded 47 runs.

Kohli completed his fastest 50 in the IPL off 26 balls and kept the home team in the game by raising the team’s 100 runs in 10 overs.

But inbetween, wicketkeeper Buttler twice let de Villiers off the hook when he missed a stumping and run out chance.

Gopal removed Kohli and de Villiers to make Bangalore stutter at 114-4 in the 13th over.

Mandeep Singh (47 not out off 25 balls) and Washington Sundar (35) narrowed the margin of defeat with a 56-run, sixth-wicket stand, but Rajasthan always looked in control to record its second victory in the tournament.