IPL 2021: Rahul, Hooda blitz down Samson's heroics as Punjab get off to winning start

IPL 2021 news: Sanju Samson's 119 was in vain as Punjab Kings held its nerve to start the season with a narrow four-run win against Rajasthan Royals.

Punjab Kings players celebrate the last over win over Rajasthan Royals.   -  BCCI/IPL

Is there something in a name?

Punjab Kings — unlike William Shakespeare — could well believe there is, after a dramatic four-run victory over Rajasthan Royals at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Monday night.

The team known as Kings XI Punjab until last season — and which often found itself on the losing side of tight contests in 2020 — must be pleased with edging a thriller and starting this year’s campaign with a win.

AS IT HAPPENED

It would be unfair to skipper K.L. Rahul (91, 50b, 7x4, 5x6) and Deepak Hooda (64, 28b, 4x4, 6x6), however, to credit a change in nomenclature for Punjab’s victory. The gentle class of Rahul combined beautifully with the brutal hitting from Hooda, as the duo helped PBKS post 221 for six after being put in.

A dejected Sanju Samson at the end of the match. PHOTO: BCCI/IPL

That would prove enough to nullify a brilliant 119 off 63 balls (12x4, 7x6) from RR skipper Sanju Samson, who was out off the last ball, caught by Hooda near the long-off boundary off Arshdeep Singh when five were needed. Samson had nearly pulled off a heist in his first match as captain.

RR’s chase had got off to a disastrous start when Ben Stokes was caught and bowled by Mohammed Shami off the third ball of the innings. It would have been worse if Rahul hadn't dropped his counterpart Samson off Arshdeep a little later. The RR skipper gave another chance and also survived an lbw verdict, thanks to DRS, on his way to a third IPL hundred.

Nobody else went past 25. Samson was, however, given excellent support down the order by Shivam Dube (23) and Riyan Parag (25) after RR was reduced to 70 for three when Jos Buttler (25) was cleaned up by Jhye Richardson.

Earlier, Rahul and Hooda put on 105 for the third wicket off just 47 balls, after a 28-ball 40 from Chris Gayle.

Rahul and Hooda put on 105 for the third wicket off just 46 balls. PHOTO: BCCI/IPL

Among the bowlers, debutant Chetan Sakariya stood out. The 23-year-old left-arm seamer, who had to put behind him the tragedy of losing his brother just three months ago, claimed three for 31 off four overs.

Sakariya also took what could be one of the catches of the season. He flew, like a goalkeeper, to his left and came up with a two-handed blinder to send Nicholas Pooran back for a golden duck off Chris Morris.

A little later, Rahul Tewatia also came up with a stunner to stymie his namesake Rahul’s hopes of a hundred with a juggling act near the mid-wicket boundary off Sakariya.

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