Skipper Ravichandran Ashwin and opener KL Rahul played pivotal roles as Kings XI Punjab produced a superb all-round performance to script a comfortable 12-run win over Rajasthan Royals in a second leg IPL clash to bring their campaign back on track.Opener Rahul hit a 47-ball 52, while Ashwin (2/24) smashed 17 off four balls in the last over and then took two crucial wickets as KXIP bounced back after successive losses in the last two matches to record their fifth win in this IPL.
Invited to bat, Rahul, who was named in India's World Cup squad on Monday, and David Miller (40 off 27) shared a 85-run stand to lay the foundation.Ashwin then smashed a four and successive sixes in the last two balls to put KXIP in a strong position.
The hosts then returned to restrict Rajasthan to 168 for seven, courtesy some superb bowling by Ashwin and Murugan Ashwin (1/24) in the middle overs after Arshdeep Singh's maiden two IPL wickets. Mohammad Shami was expensive but came good in the final overs, scalping two wickets.After this win, KXIP Punjab grabbed the fourth spot in the points table with 10 points to keep play-off hopes alive.
However, it was Rajasthan's sixth loss and they will need to pull up their socks if they have to salvage any hopes of making it to the knockout stage.Defending the total, KXIP dismissed the big-hitting Jos Buttler (23) early as Rajasthan reached 55 in the first six over.After blasting two sixes and one four, Buttler was caught by keeper Pooran as young pacer Arshdeep scalped his maiden IPL wicket.Opener Rahul Tripathi (50) and Sanju Samson (27 off 21) added 59 runs to take Rajasthan close to the 100-mark.