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Shimron Hetmyer’s Blitz Leads Rajasthan Royals to Thrilling Victory

Rajasthan Royals faced a tough situation but Shimron Hetmyer’s quickfire 27 off 10 balls secured a thrilling three-wicket win against Punjab Kings, maintaining their top spot…reports Asian Lite News

Rajasthan Royals were in a tricky situation, but Shimron Hetmyer ensured he went bang-bang to slam an unbeaten 27 off 10 balls as the visitors beat Punjab Kings in a low-scoring thriller by three wickets to maintain their pole position in the points table at the Maharaja Yadavindra Singh International Cricket Stadium on Saturday evening.

After restricting PBKS to 147/8 on a slow pitch, RR were in trouble at 115/5. Under mounting pressure, Hetmyer, who barely got batting time this season, smashed a four and three sixes, including the winning shot, to get RR over the line with a ball to spare, as the side got its fifth win of the tournament, while PBKS were consigned to its fourth defeat.

He was also helped by Rovman Powell making a vital five-ball 11 to give RR a slim victory in yet another last-over encounter between the two teams.

Chasing 148, Tanush Kotian, playing as an opener for the first time in Jos Butter’s absence, got off the mark with a cut past backward point off Arshdeep Singh and would go on to pull the pacer for another boundary.

From the other end, Yashasvi Jaiswal timed his flick and drove well to pick up a brace of fours. Though Kotian struggled to get going despite smashing Rabada over mid-on for four, Jaiswal cut off Sam Curran and was also helped by a misfield to take two boundaries as RR didn’t lose a wicket in power-play for the first time in IPL 2024.

Shortly after, Kotian tried to release dot-ball pressure with a big slog but was castled by Liam Livingstone. Sanju Samson injected positivity in RR’s chase by thumping Livingstone down the ground for six, followed by a pulled four. PBKS’ move to bring back Rabada worked as Jasiwal upper-cut a rising delivery to third man and trapped Samson lbw in his next over.

Arshdeep got PBKS ahead when he had Parag caught in the deep off a top-edge, followed by Harshal Patel having Jurel caught by Shashank Singh running in from deep mid-wicket to complete a stunning grab. With 30 runs needed off 14 balls, Hetmyer breathed life into the chase by muscling Harshal for four and pulling over backward square leg for six as 14 runs came off the 18th over.

Powell brought out back-to-back drives off Curran, before being bounced out by the pacer, who had Keshav Maharaj holing out to long-on in the 19th over. With ten runs needed off the final over, Arshdeep nailed back-to-back wide yorkers, before Hetmyer smashed a six straight to long-on cushion. After a brace to long-on, Hetmyer finished off the chase by walloping a high full toss over fine leg for six to seal a tight win for RR.

Earlier, Ashutosh Sharma exhibited his incredible ball-striking ability by making a 16-ball 31 to propel PBKS to a respectable 147/8. PBKS’ suffered a top-order meltdown as RR nailed their lengths and pace of deliveries very well and forced them to play poor shots, leading to their downfall. After Jitesh Sharma made 29, impact player Ashutosh brought some late fireworks for PBKS to amass 61 runs in the last five overs.

For RR, Maharaj took 2/23 in an impressive middle-overs spell while Avesh Khan also had two scalps to his name. Yuzvendra Chahal, Trent Boult and Kuldeep Sen took a wicket each in a disciplined bowling performance for RR.

Pushed into batting first, PBKS couldn’t get going as Atharva Taide top-edged a pull-off Avesh and with both Kuldeep plus Sanju Samson in contention to take the catch, it was taken by the former despite a minor collision.

The rest of the power-play was a struggle for PBKS as they ended the power-play at 38/1, which continued in middle overs. Prabhsimran Singh tried to go big against Chahal but holed out to long-on. Jonny Bairstow tried to slap a Maharaj delivery, but spooned a catch to cover, giving the left-arm spinner his first IPL wicket. He then got his second scalp by having Curran pull straight to mid-wicket.

Jitesh finally got PBKS’ first boundary in middle overs by dancing down the pitch to hammer a four over Maharaj’s head while Shashank Singh drove off the spinner for another boundary. But Kuldeep had Shashank miscuing a pull to Jurel, who took his third catch of the match.

Jitesh injected some momentum in PBKS’ innings by lofting Chahal over extra cover for six and crunching Kuldeep for a loft down the ground to pick another maximum. Livingstone also found boundaries by heaving and swiping Kuldeep for four and six respectively.

But in a bid to go over mid-off, Jitesh miscued the shot and gave a catch to the fielder off Avesh. Livingstone wanted to go for a second run, but Ashutosh sent him back. By then, Samson had collected the under-arm throw from debutant Kotian and had Livingstone run out.

Ashutosh, dropped at nine due to a collision between Samson and Avesh for taking his catch, provided finishing touches by smashing three brutal sixes – two of them coming over long-on and firmly struck a four through extra cover before a top-edge on the pull caught by backward point led to his dismissal on last ball of the PBKS’ stop-start innings, which wasn’t enough to deny RR their second win away from home.

Brief scores:

Punjab Kings 147/8 in 20 overs (Ashutosh Sharma 31, Jitesh Sharma 29; Keshav Maharaj 2-23, Avesh Khan 2-34) lost to Rajasthan Royals 152/7 in 19.5 overs (Yashasvi Jaiswal 39, Shimron Hetmyer 27 not out; Kagiso Rabada 2-18, Sam Curran 2-25) by three wickets.

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