David Miller scored 23 in an unsuccessful run-chase for Kings XI Punjab as they lost their opening IPL game to the Rajasthan Royals by 26 runs in Pune on Friday night.
Chris Morris was on the winning side with the Royals, scoring an unbeaten six runs and bowling figures of 0-21 in his four overs.
After posting 162-7 on a green and lively surface, the Rajasthan Royals bowlers never allowed KXIP to get their foot into the run-chase, eventually restricting them to 136-8.
Faced with an asking rate of 8.15, KXIP got off to the worst possible start. They lost Virender Sehwag off the very first ball, who chased a wide delivery and the outside edge was pouched by wicket-keeper Sanju Samson diving full stretch to his right. The RR wicket-keeper had a hand in the dismissals of Wriddhiman Saha and Murali Vijay shortly after too, scoring direct hits to catch both batsmen short of their ground.
Batting at number five and seven, Axar Patel and George Bailey didn’t get too many freebies and struggled to find the boundaries, despite the required run rate mounting with every passing delivery. Patel perished in the 18th over having made 24 from 28 balls, while Bailey perished in the 19th over for 24 (18 balls). KXIP eventually finished their allotted 20 overs with 136 runs on the board.
Faulkner capped off his evening by playing a role in sending back the dangerous Glenn Maxwell, David Miller, Mitchell Johnson and George Bailey. He picked up the wickets of Maxwell, Johnson and Bailey. Stood at deep thirdman, he then gleefully accepted a catch that would send back Miller. While Faulkner (3-26) returned the most successful bowler of the evening, the 43-year old leg-spinner – Pravin Tambe – also impressed. On a surface more conducive to pace bowlers and where the KXIP spinners had leaked 77 runs in eight overs, Tambe bowled his three overs and conceded just 15 runs.
Earlier in the evening, RR got off to a poor start losing both their openers in the first three overs. Steve Smith, who captained the team on the day owing to an injury to regular captain Shane Watson, and Karun Nair steadied the innings. Left-arm spinner Axar Patel was introduced into the attack in the sixth over and both the RR batsmen pounced on him straight away; Smith struck consecutive boundaries, while Karun deposited one into the stands. But the bowler had the last laugh as he darted one and breached past the defences of Karun. The promising partnership was nipped at 21 runs.
Smith continued to accumulate runs picking up the singles regularly apart from hitting the odd boundary, before he was done in by a quick short-pitched delivery from his compatriot Mitchell Johnson and holed out to thirdman. The RR skipper made 33 from 23 balls.
For KXIP, Anureet Singh (3-23) was the most successful bowler, while Sandeep Sharma, who took the new ball first up, bowled out his four overs unchanged and finished with figures of 4-1-19-1. Mitchell Johnson, used on the day as the fifth bowler, ran in hard and didn’t hold back; his fastest delivery was clocked at a speed of 149.2 kph and his average speed was 142.3 kph. His first spell figures read 2-0-8-2, with 7 of their 8 runs coming by means of wides.