Jaipur (Rajasthan) [India], Mar 25 (ANI): Kings XI Punjab began their IPL journey on a successful note as they defeated Rajasthan Royals by 14 runs at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on Monday.
Chasing a target of 185, Rajasthan got off to a brisk start as openers Ajinkya Rahane and Jos Buttler built a solid 78-run partnership, which saw Buttler bringing his half-century off 29 balls.
Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin bowled Rahane for 27. However, Rajasthan did not let the dismissal affect their momentum as Buttler along with Sanju Samson shrugged off the pressure with their 30-run stand.
Ashwin got a major breakthrough as he mankaded Buttler (69). On replays, the batsman was clearly out of the crease and was given out.
The game seemed much in favour of Rajasthan as Steve Smith and Samson kept ticking the scoreboard before Smith (20) gave a simple catch to KL Rahul. The tide turned soon after Samson's dismissal for 30 and Rajasthan faced lusty blows and unfortunately ended their chase on 170 for the loss of nine.
Given the opportunity to set a target, Punjab were powered to 184/4 by scintillating innings from Chris Gayle. The left-handed batsman smashed eight boundaries and four sixes in his 47-ball 79. The Universe Boss registered his 4000 IPL runs, becoming the fastest to reach the feat.
All eyes were set on KL Rahul, who has made his case stronger for the World Cup, but the Punjab opener was caught behind cheaply for four in the first over of the match.
Mayank Agarwal and Gayle recovered Punjab from an early blow as the duo formed a 56-run partnership before Dhawal Kulkarni took a great catch of Agarwal for 22.
Gayle soon found new support in Sarfaraz Khan and the Punjab batsmen stitched together an 84-run stand, which also saw Gayle completing his half-century off 33 balls.
Rajasthan got its breakthrough as pacer Ben Stokes struck Gayle, who went for the pull but could not get the distance and Rahul Tripathi cupped the ball at deep midwicket boundary.
Sarfaraz's (46) brief stands with Nicholas Pooran (12) and Mandeep Singh (5) helped Punjab post a challenging target of 185.
Punjab will next meet Kolkata Knight Riders on March 27 at Eden Gardens, while Rajasthan will take on Sunrisers Hyderabad on March 29 at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.
Brief scores: Kings XI Punjab 184/4 (CH Gayle 79, SN Khan 46, BA Stokes 2-48) beat Rajasthan Royals 170/9 (JC Buttler 69, SM Curran 2-52, Rahman 2-31) by 14 runs. (ANI)