In a mind-boggling sequence of events, the unheralded Rahul Tewatia of Rajasthan Royals smashed five sixes off Sheldon Cottrell in the 18th over to guide his team to a sensational four-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League here on Sunday.
Just when it looked like the Kings XI was well-placed to secure a facile win, southpaw Rahul turned the tables on the Punjab outfit with remorseless hitting that left his more famous namesake, KL Rahul, dazed. Rahul got out for 53 (31b, 7x6) with his team at the doorstep of victory. The Royals overcame a few hiccups in the last over before Tom Curran hit a four off M Ashwin to secure a memorable win.
The Royals wasn’t in the least intimidated by such a daunting target and got off the blocks quickly. But it received an early setback when Jos Buttler, playing his first match this IPL, was out cheaply for 4 off Sheldon Cottrell. In walked the danger man, Sanju Samson, and he continued from where he left off by clobbering the ball to different parts of the ground. Royals skipper Steve Smith wasn’t to be left behind as he joined in the merry treating even good balls with utter disdain.
The Royals reached a healthy 69 for one at the completion of Powerplay. Even after the field restrictions were lifted, the duo of Smith and Samson showed no let-up in their intensity and smashed boundaries at will. In the process, Smith brought up his 50 off 26 balls and the team’s hundred was raised in just 8.5 overs.
But off the very next ball, Jimmy Neesham got rid of Smith caught by Mohammed Shami at deep cover for 50 (27b, 7x4, 2x6). The duo added 81 runs for the second wicket in 40 balls. At the halfway mark, the Royals was 104 for two. Samson continued his rich vein of form before getting out for 85 (42b, 4x4, 7x6).
Earlier, Mayank Agarwal outshone his Kings XI Punjab captain Rahul with a maiden IPL hundred as the duo pummelled the Royals bowlers into submission to post an imposing 223 for 2.
Agarwal (106) and Rahul (69) stitched 183 runs for the opening stand, the highest partnership for any wicket so far this season as they took apart the Royals bowlers who were also wayward in their line and length.
The duo just missed the record of highest opening wicket partnership in IPL history by a mere two runs when Agarwal was out in the 17th over after hitting 10 fours and seven sixes.
BRIEF SCORES: Kings XI Punjab 223/2 in 20 overs (M Agarwal 106, KL Rahul 69) lost to Rajasthan Royals 226/6 in 19.3 overs (S Samson 85, R Tewatia 53, S Smith 50)