Sanju Samson became the first IPL player to score a century on captaincy debut. Unfortunately, his valiant effort went in vain as Rajasthan Royals (RR) lost during the high-scoring encounter against Punjab Kings (PBKS) at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai on 12 April. RR needed 5 off the last delivery when Samson, trying to hit over wide long-off, was caught by Deepak Hooda. Despite the defeat, Samson was adjudged Player of the Match.
Earlier in the day, KL Rahul (91 off 50) and Hooda (64 off 28) set the stage on fire and helped PBKS post 221/6 after Samson won the toss and asked them to bat first. Debutant Chetan Sakariya (3-31) was the only RR bowler to leave an impact.
Openers Rahul and Mayank Agarwal added 21 in the first two overs. Mayank hit a boundary off the first ball he faced, from Sakariya, but the latter had the last laugh in the mini-battle. Mayank (14 off 9) returned to the pavilion after he misjudged a good-length delivery and ended up edging it to the keeper, and Punjab were 22/1.
Coming at No. 3, Universe Boss Chris Gayle began his innings tentatively in his customary style. He scored 15 runs in his first 16 balls before shifted his gear in an outrageous manner. Gayle and Rahul rebuilt the Punjab innings after Mayank’s early departure: the pair added 67 in 41 balls to put the innings back on track.
The Jamaican giant then fell for 40 (off 28 balls) when he mistimed shot towards Ben Stokes at long-on. This was the first time he failed to notch up his fifty while donning the Punjab jersey in the first game of a season. He had scored 63, 79, and 53 in his first appearance for Punjab in 2018, 2019, and 2020 respectively.
The breakthrough partnership of the match was the third-wicket stand of 105 between Rahul and Hooda. Rahul soon brought up his fifty by hitting a six straight down the ground. At the other end, Hooda raced to the landmark in just 20 deliveries. Chris Morris then returned to pick dismiss Hooda and Nicholas Pooran in consecutive deliveries in the 18th over – though the latter can be attributed to a spectacular flying catch by young Sakariya.
Stokes walked out with Manan Vohra to begin the chase for Rajasthan. His three-ball duck ended when he top-edged a pull. In the fourth over, Arshdeep took a terrific reflex catch off his own bowling to send Vohra back. Punjab should also have got Samson, had Rahul been able to take an easy catch in the same over. Mayank, too, dropped Samson later in the innings.
Jos Buttler (25 in 13) smashed four boundaries in the first four balls of Riley Meredith in the fifth over to put pressure back on Punjab bowlers. Buttler and Samson added a quickfire 45 before the former was bamboozled by a classic slower ball from Jhye Richardson.
Shivam Dube (23 off 15) played his part, helping his captain put up a fifty-run stand and brought a much-needed 50-run stand before falling to Arshdeep. Despite that, Samson ensured the Royals’ asking rate remained under control. They needed 48 runs in 24 balls with six wickets in hand.
Shami came back to bowl the 17th and trapped a dangerous-looking Riyan Parag (25 off 11) for caught behind with a short of a length delivery. However, the well-set Samson then hit 4,6 and 4 off Richardson in the next over to bring up his century, but he lost Rahul Tewatia thereafter.
With 13 to get off 6, Arshdeep was asked to bowl the final over. He began well, but Samson slammed a six off the fourth ball to bring the target down to 5 in 2 balls. Samson then drove the fifth ball to deep extra-cover but turned down Morris’ offer of a single.
The 22-year-old got the better of the RR skipper (could’ve been earlier) after the latter denying to take a single off the penultimate delivery.
Punjab Kings 221/6 in 20 overs (KL Rahul 91, Deepak Hooda 64; Chetan Sakariya 3-31) beat Rajasthan Royals 217/7 in 20 overs (Sanju Samson 119; Arshdeep Singh 3-35) by 10 runs. Player of the Match: Sanju Samson.
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