Ben Stokes on Friday powered Rajasthan Royals to a huge IPL win against Kings XI Punjab. England’s World Cup hero scored another impressive fifty, scalped two crucial wickets and was involved in a stunning catch in the match.
Batting first, Kings XI Punjab made 185-4 in 20 overs with Chris Gayle scoring 99 off 63 balls. He was devastated on not being able to complete what would have been a remarkable century. Gayle hit eight sixes and completed 1000 IPL sixes of his T20 career. He was well supported by the competition’s leading scorer, KL Rahul, who made 46 in 41 balls.
Ben Stokes took two wickets by conceding just 32 runs and also completed his quota of four overs for the first time in the competition since joining his team. Stokes also took a stunning catch of Mandeep Singh off the bowling of his compatriot, Jofra Archer.
But there was more to come from England’s World Cup hero, who began to hit Kings XI Punjab bowlers all around the stadium when he opened the innings. He was unlucky to have been out after completing his fifty with a six off 26 balls. His departure brought Sanju Samson to bat and he did not disappoint his fans as the batsman from Kerala began to showcase his batting prowess. Samson faced 25 balls and made 48 runs before he was run out by a direct hit.
With skipper Steve Smith and Jos Buttler batting, Rajasthan’s victory had become a mere formality by then. They achieved the target with 2.3 overs to spare.
KXIP skipper KL Rahul said, “It was a horrible toss to lose with the amount of dew later on. It did get very very easy to bat on. The wrist spinners want the ball to be dry and get some grip off the surface but with the dew it got really difficult. On a sticky wicket, as it was when we batted, this was not a bad total. We didn’t bowl badly, but we need to learn to bowl better with the wet ball. The dew has been unpredictable. We spoke to the groundsman, and he said there was no dew last game. You can’t prepare for it, but you have to be able to adapt to that. It has been the kind of season where nothing has come easy. We have had to work hard for every point. No surprise that it has come down to the last game.”
Smith, for his part, said, “Ebbed and flowed. But would have been great to win a few in the middle. But it is about peaking at the right time. We still need to do our bit, We have different plans as to who goes in after who gets out. Gave Buttler a chance to bat at number 5. Nice to get over the line comfortably. Helps the NRR. The last two games he has been exceptional. Has good innovation, Hits the ball in weird areas. He is a valauble player. One of the best in the world. You are always talking to players and try to get the best of them. We know if he spends time in the middle, he will come good. Couple of games tomorrow, we will be matching them closely and then good to go day after.”
Both Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab now have 12 points each with one match to go. However, the team owned by Preity Zinta is placed fourth in the points table due to a relatively better run-rate. Rajasthan Royals have now dislodged Kolkata Knight Riders from the fifth position in the table with today’s win.
Ben Stokes was awarded Man Of The Match for the second time in a row for his all-round efforts. In the previous match, Stokes had played an unbelievable knock of 107 NOT OUT in 60 balls to ensure that his side remained in contention for the playoff stage in the ongoing competition.