Rahul downs Royals in comfortable Kings XI win
Lokesh Rahul's superb unbeaten 84 fired Kings XI Punjab to a comprehensive six-wicket victory over Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League.
The Royals were reliant on Jos Buttler's 51 to set a relatively modest target of 153 that Kings XI steadily chipped away at.
Jofra Archer's death bowling has been key to Rajasthan's successes in this tournament, but opener Rahul and Marcus Stoinis (23 not out) thrived when the fast bowler stepped up and edged nearer to victory.
It was Rahul who inevitably sealed the win with his best ever IPL total from 54 balls, but the beaten visitors will not have to wait long for revenge as the sides meet again in two days' time.
BUTTLER'S BOUNDARIES UNMATCHED
Kings XI sent the visitors in to bat and the first wicket fell with just the third ball, D'Arcy Short (2) lifting Andrew Tye's delivery up into the air and into the hands of Ravichandran Ashwin.
Buttler steadily plundered boundaries, but his partners' attempts to match his efforts were largely as unsuccessful as Short's and both Ajinkya Rahane (5) and Sanju Samson (28) were also caught.
And Ben Stokes' (12) frustrating tournament continued when his momentum was halted, with Mayank Agarwal catching just before the rope and successfully offloading to Manoj Tiwary as he fell backwards.
MUJEEB MAKES HIS MARK
The innings became more difficult still when Buttler went to Mujeeb Ur Rahman (3-27), whose third wicket came with the dismissal of Archer for a golden duck.
Even at that stage, with the Royals wobbling, it was clear they would be heavily reliant on Archer's bowling later on to have any chance of holding off a Kings XI chase, with Rajasthan only able to reach 152-9.
The hosts' pace was initially slow, too, but Rahul performed steadily - escaping when it was deemed Sanju Samson had not caught him - and it was he and Stoinis who delivered at the death.
RAHUL RATTLES ROYALS
Archer had earlier removed Chris Gayle and the Royals will have been hopeful that he could add further wickets when he stepped up to bowl the 17th over.
But 16 runs - including two boundaries - followed as Rahul passed his half-century and the match was instead turned in Kings XI's favour, with another expensive over from Jaydev Unadkat to come.
That left the home side requiring only 12 runs from 12 balls and Rahul took delight in carrying his side over the line, ending with a six, a two and a four.