Chandigarh: Skipper Ravichandran Ashwin led from the front as Kings XI Punjab came back to the playoffs race with a 12-run win against Rajasthan Royals on Tuesday in Mohali.
Chasing 183 for win after KL Rahul helped Kings XI post 182/6 with a well-paced 52, Royals were on course with 94 needed off 60 balls.
Ashwin (2/24), whose 4-ball 17 run cameo proved to be the difference in the end, removed Sanju Samson (27) in the 12th over to break the 59-run second wicket stand with Rahul Tripathi (50 off 45 balls; 4x4) and then got the back of Tripathi in the 16th over to further dent Royals' charge.
After Tripathi's dismissal, the visitors needed 56 off 24. But Ajinkya Rahane (26) failed to lead from the front once again and Stuart Binny's unbeaten 11-ball 31 too proved futile in the end as Kings XI won easily at the end. Royals managed 170/7 in 20 overs.
Besides Ashwin, Mohammed Shami (2/46) and Arshdeep Singh (2/43) also got two wickets.
Royals were off to a flying start despite losing Jos Buttler (23) early.
Tripathi and Samson were going about their job perfectly when Ashwin first castled Samson and then also did not allow Rahane and Tripathi to guide the team through as the batsman holed out to Mayank Agarwal at long off.
Once Rahane was gone, Ashton Turner (0) failed on debut while Jofra Archer (1), who starred with the ball, could not impress too.
Earlier, buoyed by a World Cup call-up, KL Rahul struck a well-timed fifty but Archer stole the limelight from him with splendid figures of 3/15 as Kings XI Punjab posted 182/6 after being asked to bat first.
Rahul, who was included in the 15-member World Cup squad on Monday, took 47 balls to score 52 with the help of three fours and two sixes.
David Miller (40 off 27 balls; 2x4; 2x6) also played a vital role as the pair stitched together a 85-run stand for the third wicket.