Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
The Kings XI Punjab claimed the top spot heading into the playoffs with an easy 16-run win over the Rajasthan Royals in Chandigarh.
Australia batsman Shaun Marsh was the standout performer for Punjab as he scored a fluent 40.
Rajasthan captain Shane Watson would have been pleased with his decision to bowl first after Punjab opener Virender Sehwag was caught by Vikramjeet Malik at mid-on off the bowling of James Faulkner for 18.
Manan Vohra managed to make 25 runs before he was run out by Stuart Binny.
Marsh and Wriddhiman Saha stabilised the innings with a 59-run partnership before Marsh was caught by Ajinkya Rahane at long-on off the bowling of Malik.
Marsh’s fantastic knock of 40 came off 35 balls and included five boundaries and a six.
Saha ended up scoring 27 before he was caught by Rahane at long-on off the bowling of Rahul Tewatia.
Punjab skipper George Bailey and David Miller amassed an unbeaten 60-run partnership to lead their side to 179/4 off their 20 overs.
Bailey finished on 26 off 18 balls, which included one boundary and a six, while Miller remained undefeated on 29 off 20 deliveries, which included two sixes.
Malik, Faulkner and Tewatia picked up one wicket apiece.
Chasing 180 to win, Rajasthan got off to a poor start as Karun Nair was caught by Bailey at cover off the bowling of Lakshmipathy Balaji for 11.
Rahane scored 23 runs before he was clean bowled by Rishi Dhawan.
Dhawan struck again the very next ball as he shattered Watson’s stumps to dismiss him for a golden duck.
Binny only made seven runs before he was caught by Marsh at long-off off the bowling of Karanveer Singh.
Sanju Samson accumulated 30 runs before he was stumped by Saha off the bowling of Singh.
Tewatia mustered 16 runs before he was caught by Singh at deep square leg off the bowling of Akshar Patel.
Brad Hodge made a quickfire 31 before he was stumped by Saha off the bowling of Patel.
Patel took his third wicket just two balls later when Kevon Cooper was caught by Marsh at long-off for two runs.
Faulkner’s unbeaten knock of 35 went in vain as Rajasthan ended up falling 16 runs short of their target.
Patel was the most successful bowler with three wickets, while Singh and Dhawan snapped up two wickets each and Balaji claimed one.
Wastson was disappointed to have lost the match, and said: “Very good wicket. I’m a culprit for losing my wicket. Faulkner has been incredible with the bat. We have got to pick ourselves up from tonight’s game. The game against Mumbai Indians is a knockout.”
Bailey was pleased with his team’s performance, and said: “We have been trying to have a smaller gap between your best and worst cricket. We said we had a lot of batters capable of scoring between 20 and 40 but the pleasing thing tonight was we kept wickets in hand and built stands. Karanveer has been patient and bowled beautifully tonight. I thought Balaji and Rishi were excellent in the middle overs. Akshar too.”
Marsh was named Man of the Match, and said: “Enjoyed batting with Manan. The bowlers were fantastic. The ball was coming on really nicely, full credit to our bowlers. Good that we got a good win tonight.”