IPL 2024: Hetmyer holds nerve as Rajasthan Royals scrape past Punjab Kings

Shimron Hetmyer
Shimron Hetmyer plays a shot. Photo: PTI/Ravi Choudhary

Mullanpur:Rajasthan Royals struggled against Punjab Kings bowlers who took the pace off the ball cleverly on a sticky pitch but found enough steam to eke out a three-wicket win in their IPL match here on Saturday.

The target was a rather easy-looking 148 but a set of spot-on Punjab bowlers and a tacky surface made the task of Royals tough before they were home off the penultimate ball.

The Rajasthan outfit required 49 runs off the last five overs. They got over the line despite having with Shimron Hetmyer (27 not out, 10b, 1x4, 3x6) keeping his cool at the crunch.

That equation came down to 10 off the final six balls after Hetmyer smashed Harshal Patel for a six and four in the 19th over. The West Indian left-hander achieved the target through a couple of sixes off pacer Arshdeep Singh in the final over.

Royals began their chase sedately through Yashasvi Jaiswal and Tanush Kotian without any real scoreboard pressure behind them.

However, Kotian, who was batting so up in the order in T20s for the first time, did not find his flow but still assisted Jaiswal to add 56 in 8.2 overs.

But his effort to hammer Liam Livingstone out of the ground ended up in him losing his leg-stump.

Jaiswal, who played a delectable flick off Kagiso Rabada, looked on course to end a string of low scores in this IPL.

But a rather needless uppercut off Rabada was grabbed by Harshal ]near third man as Royals looked a tad wobbly.

Their woes deepened when skipper Sanju Samson, who had earlier broken the manacles with a six and four off Livingstone, was trapped leg-before by Rabada in his last over.

Riyan Parag
Punjab Kings players celebrate the wicket of Riyan Parag. Photo: PTI/Ravi Choudhary

Sanju could not connect with a slightly low, incoming delivery from Rabada, and the ball pinged his backfoot and even the DRS could not save him.

Earlier, the Royals bowlers Avesh (2/34) and Maharaj (2/23) exploited a sticky pitch to the hilt to restrict Punjab to a a rather modest total.

Ashutosh Sharma (31, 16b), Jitesh Sharma (29, 24b) and Livingstone (21, 14b) tried to force the pace but Punjab needed more than those pretty cameos.

Keshav Maharaj
Keshav Maharaj celebrates with Sanju Samson after dismissing Jonny Bairstow. Photo: AFP/Arun Sankar

But Punjab had a rather quick start to their innings with 26 runs coming in the first three overs as Atharva Taide, who came in for injured skipper Shikhar Dhawan, hammered a couple of fours off pacer Kuldeep Sen.

But the brakes were soon applied as Taide's mistimed pull off Avesh ended in the hands of Sen inside the circle.

Thereafter the Punjab batters struggled to muster any sort of momentum on a pitch that gripped a bit, especially for left-arm spinner Maharaj and leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.

However, a slice of credit should also go to veteran pacer Trent Boult who conceded just 15 runs in his three powerplay overs.

The last three power play overs fetched only 10 runs for Punjab as they ended that passage on a modest 38/1.

In the next five overs, the hosts struggled to hit even one boundary as they laboured to 53 for four in 10 overs, losing Jonny Bairstow, stand-in-skipper Sam Curran and Prabhsimran Singh, all consumed by the combination of a slow deck and accurate spinners.

Their biggest hope could have been the range-hitting ability of in-form Shahshank Singh but a feeble pull off Sen could not progress beyond Dhruv Jurel at mid-wicket.

With the cream of top-order failing to contribute anything significant, Punjab required some hefty hand from Livingstone and Jitesh to get to even a par score.

Jitesh showed some intent, clobbering Chahal for a gorgeously timed six over extra over, and later sent Sen for a six to the straight fence before getting out to Avesh.

Livingstone, who creamed Sen for a six and four off successive balls through mid-wicket, and Ashutosh, who smoked Avesh for two sixes in the 19th over, helped PBKS add 61 runs in the last five overs, but their effort came a wee bit late.

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