Jaipur: Collective brilliance from Jos Buttler and the entire Rajasthan bowling unit kept Rajasthan Royals’ play-off hopes alive after they managed to defeat Kings XI Punjab by 15 runs on Tuesday.
Rajasthan now have jumped two spots in the standings and are now placed 6th. Punjab remain at the third spot despite the defeat.
It was the host's bowlers who helped their side defend a moderate 158 run total against an in-form Punjab.
Despite hunting a chase-able total, seven of the Punjab batsman didn't even reach double digits and it was only their opener KL Rahul, who single handedly fought till the last ball of the match, slamming an unbeaten 95 off 70, laced with 11 fours and couple of sixes.
Chasing the target, Punjab were off to a poor start as off-spinner Krishnappa Gowtham struck twice in the third over to pack off the dangerous Chris Gayle (1) and skipper Ravichandran Ashwin (0).
Punjab's situation worsened as Jofra Archer dismissed an in-form Karun Nair (3) to leave the visitors reeling at 17/4.
Akshdeep Nath (9) then joined Rahul to add 26 runs for the fourth wicket, taking Punjab to 45 runs. However, just when the combination was settling down, Ish Sodhi struck to send back Akshdeep in the ninth over.
Manoj Tiwary and Rahul then tried to repair the damage but once again their effort went in vain as Tiwary gave an easy catch to Ajinkya Rahane off a Ben Stokes delivery in the 12th over.
Despite wickets falling at regular intervals, Rahul continued his assault from one end and reached his half century in the 14th over.
Punjab eventually needed 32 runs from the final over and Rahul tried his best, smashing 14 runs. However, it was not good enough as the visitors could only manage to reach 143 runs losing seven wickets.
For the hosts, Gowtham emerged with impressive figures of 2/12 off his three overs while Archer, Unadkat, Stokes and Sodhi bagged a wicket each.
Earlier, Buttler led the way with a 82-run knock before Kings XI Punjab bowlers fought back.
Pacer Andre Tye was the most successful KXIP bowler, returning figures of 4/34, while mystery spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman picked up 2/21 in four overs.
Buttler looked in rampaging form as he smashed Axar Patel for a six over over extra cover before going inside out to collect a boundary.
Skipper Ajinkya Rahane was dismissed by Tye, who fooled the batsman with a knuckle ball, inducing an edge to extra cover. Gowtham, too, fell quickly as he was sent back by Stoinis in the seventh over.
A half century partnership then ensued between Buttler and the talented Sanju Samson (22) but the run rate dropped as the Royals batsmen, including the Englishman, struggled to find the boundaries.
Finally, Buttler's innings came to an end when Mujeeb had him stumped with Royals' score reading 132 for four in the 17th over. He stuck nine fours and a six.
Stuart Binny hit Tye for a six but Rajasthan simply lost their after a flying start.