Mumbai, May 7 (IANS) Opener Yashasvi Jaiswal marked his return to Rajasthan Royals’ playing eleven with a scintillating 68 while Shimron Hetmyer exhibited his finishing exploits in an unbeaten 31 to help the inaugural IPL winners defeat Punjab Kings by six wickets at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday.
After Jonny Bairstow’s 58 and Jitesh Sharma’s unbeaten 38 took Punjab to 189/5, Jaiswal shined in his comeback match of IPL 2022, hitting his shots well and picking the gaps easily. After he fell, Devdutt Padikkal struggled to get going. But Hetmyer ensured that Rajasthan chased down the total to successfully break their two-match losing streak and keep themselves in the hunt for a spot in the playoffs.
Jaiswal began by slamming two fours through cuts in the off-side and a glorious picked-up six over deep square leg. Jos Buttler joined the attacking party in the fourth over, launching Kagiso Rabada for a six over deep midwicket. He followed it up with three fours — carving one through extra cover, a lap-pull over short fine leg while in air and smoked through cover. But Rabada had the last laugh, having an over-improvising Buttler caught at short third man.
Sanju Samson took over the attacking mantle after Buttler’s fall, finding luck in getting fours through edges twice while nailing other boundaries with sheer timing through point and cover. But his stay at the crease ended when he miscued to long-off off Rishi Dhawan.
Jaiswal continued with his charge, heaving a four over Sandeep Sharma’s head and produced a stunning inside-out lofted six over extra cover off Rahul Chahar. Sharma came under from Jaiswal again when he carted back-to-back fours — slapping over long-off and playing a silken late cut through the third man.
He reached his maiden fifty of the tournament in 33 balls. Jaiswal then followed it up with three fours off Dhawan in the 13th over — a smack over long-on, scoop flying over short third man and nailing drive past cover. After taking another four through reverse sweep off Chahar, Jaiswal tried to take over Arshdeep Singh but holed out to long-off, breaking the 56-run stand.
With 47 runs needed off the last five overs, Hetmyer clipped Rabada through fine leg and cracked successive boundaries in the arc between mid-wicket and long-on. Hetmyer and Padikkal took four and six respectively off Rabada to make the equation really easy for Rajasthan.
Arshdeep nailed his yorkers in a top-class 19th over and got Padikkal out with a low full toss chipped to cover. Hetmyer dispatched Chahar for a six over wide long-on and finished off the chase with a single in the same region to seal Rajasthan’s first win of the tournament in a chase.
Earlier, everyone in Punjab’s batting line-up got starts but only Bairstow could convert into a fifty, a 40-ball 56, also his highest score of IPL 2022. He began his innings by taking two fours through leg-side off Trent Boult. He took a special liking to speedster Kuldeep Sen, taking him for successive fours through point and mid-wicket. After bowling a maiden in his second over of the day, Bairstow and Shikhar Dhawan took 1′ runs off Boult’s third over.
Dhawan got a four by dancing down the pitch to pull through backward square leg while Bairstow had a streaky four — an edge on pull going past the keeper and ending the over with a lovely picked-up six over deep square leg. It took a stunning one-handed leaping catch from Buttler at mid-on to send Dhawan back in the final over of power-play off Ravichandran Ashwin.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa gave Bairstow good support, welcoming Yuzvendra Chahal with a clean six over cow corner and followed it up with another six over long-off. Bairstow showed his off-side finesse with a reverse sweep off Ashwin and cutting Sen through backward point for fours. After hitting Krishna for back-to-back fours, Rajapaksa tried to loft again against Chahal. But the leg-spinner had the last laugh by disturbing his leg-stump.
Mayank Agarwal looked set to go big with back-to-back fours off Ashwin but holed out to long-on off Chahal. Two balls later, Bairstow, who had reached his fifty with a lofted drive off Boult, was trapped lbw by the leg-spinner after missing a low flick.
Livingstone teed off with a huge six down the ground off Ashwin while Sharma crunched consecutive fours off Krishna. The duo then stole a six each off Chahal and Krishna with Livingstone taking four more off the latter.
Krishna finally had Livingstone out with a yorker hitting the base of off-stump. Sharma applied finishing touches on Punjab’s innings, smashing a six over mid-wicket followed by fours over mid-off and extra cover as 67 runs came off the last five overs.
Brief scores: Punjab Kings 189/5 in 20 overs (Jonny Bairstow 56, Jitesh Sharma 38 not out; Yuzvendra Chahal 3/28, Ravichandran Ashwin 1/32) lost to Rajasthan Royals 190/4 in 19.4 overs (Yashasvi Jaiswal 68, Shimron Hetmyer 31 not out; Arshdeep Singh 2/29, Rishi Dhawan 1/25)