- Sanju Samson scored a century on his Indian Premier League captaincy debut, batting 119 off 63 balls.
- Samson became the first player in the IPL this season to score a century.
- Rajasthan Royals were able to score 217 runs for 7 wickets in 20 overs after being set a target of 222 runs by Punjab Kings.
In a high-scoring IPL game in Mumbai on Monday, Sanju Samson’s sensational century on his captaincy debut went in vain as young pacer Arshdeep Singh retained his nerve in the final over to help Punjab Kings pull off a thrilling four-run win over Rajasthan Royals. After being put in to bat on a batting beauty, KL Rahul (91 off 50) and Deepak Hooda (64 off 28) led Punjab Kings to an impressive 221 for 6. Samson almost led the Royals to victory with a stunning 119 off 63 balls, but he was caught off the final ball of the game, with left-arm pacer Arshdeep defending 13 runs in the final over.
Samson, who smashed seven sixes and 12 fours with ease, was so assured that he denied a single to Chris Morris on the penultimate ball of the game, when the Royals needed five runs in two balls. It was not to be for Royals in the end, as Punjab emerged victorious.
Rajasthan lost opener Ben Stokes (0) early in their chase for 222. Manan Vohra (12) was then removed by Arshdeep after he lobbed a regulation return catch, putting the Royals in trouble at 25 for 2.
With a 45-run stand-off Riley Meredith, Samson and Jos Buttler (25), who hit four consecutive boundaries off him, attempted to take the game to a new level. Rajasthan was pinned back by pacer Jhye Richardson, who cleaned up Buttler. Despite losing partners at the other end, Samson completed his fifty with a boundary and continued to play his shots to keep his team in the game.
Royals scored 26 runs in the 14th and 15th overs, and Murugan Ashwin gave three sixes in the 16th over as Royals scored 20 runs, bringing the total to 48 runs from the last four overs.
In the 18th over, Samson hammered Royals’ Richardson for two boundaries and a six, putting his team on the verge of a fine win before falling short.
Earlier, Rahul smashed seven fours and five sixes, while Hooda, in his first game since the last IPL, smashed six maximums and four boundaries to help Punjab reach 200 runs. They lost opener Mayank Agarwal (14) to IPL debutant Chetan Sakariya, who edged it back to Samson for his first wicket. In the 20th over, he was the best of the bowlers, conceding just five runs.
With their 67-run stand, Rahul (who got his first four with a glance to the fine-leg fence) and Chris Gayle (40 off 28) got the team off to a strong start. Rahul was given a ‘life’ when Ben Stokes dropped him at the fence in the seventh over, despite Gayle appearing to be in his element. The pair then faced Stokes, with Gayle hitting his 350th IPL six in the eighth over, a pull over deep square, as Punjab raced to 70 for one.
Gayle was dropped by leggie Rahul Tewatia (0/25) off his own bowling, and the left-hander smashed a six in the very next ball. In the tenth over, however, Riyan Parag (1/7) removed Gayle, who was holed out in the deep to Stokes.
In the 13th over, Rahul switched gears and hit a six over Shivam Dube’s head for his fifty. Punjab went on a rampage, with Hooda smashing two maximums in the same over and three sixes off Shreyas Gopal (0/40).
The difference in their total came down to Rahul and Hooda’s performance at the Wankhede, where the duo tore through the opposition attack en route to a 105-run stand. Punjab scored 111 runs in the last eight overs thanks to their ferocious hitting.