Throughout the chase, till the moment he refused a run off the penultimate ball, Samson (119 off 63 balls; 12×4, 7×6) had kept his poise. Though he became the first debutant captain to score a century in IPL history, he could not take his team over the line as the Kings sneaked in a four-run victory at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday.
SCORECARD | MATCH HIGHLIGHTS
With 13 required from the last over, Punjab seamer Arshdeep Singh (3-35) kept his nerves in check, gave no room to the firing Samson and took his team home.
01:18IPL 2021: Sanju Samson ton in vain as Punjab Kings down Rajasthan Royals
RR tried their luck with the new opening pair of Ben Stokes and Manan Vohra, but in vain. The two departed within the first four overs with the scoreline teetering at 25/2. Samson soaked in the pressure and gave the team a hope of a happy ending, but ran out of support from the other end.
Earlier, put in to bat, Punjab Kings captain KL Rahul, the highest run-getter in the previous edition, made his intent clear once again as he slammed 91 off 50 balls (7×4, 5×6) while anchoring the innings.
IPL 2021, Match 4: Punjab Kings vs Rajasthan Royals
Rajasthan Royals’ Sanju Samson struck a blistering century in his first match as captain but was unable to prevent Punjab Kings from recording a four-run victory in a high-scoring IPL thriller at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday. (PTI Photo for IPL)
Courtesy some brutal hitting, Punjab posted a daunting total of 221/6, thanks in part to Deepak Hooda’s incredible 28-ball 64 (4×4, 6×6).
As Rahul took his time to settle down, Chris Gayle (40 off 28 balls) paced the innings, taking Punjab’s powerplay score of 46/1 to 89/1 before holing out to Stokes at long-on in the 10th over.
In came IPL veteran Hooda, promoted up the order ahead of Nicholas Pooran, with all guns blazing, and demolished the Rajasthan attack.
Jofra Archer’s absence was telling for the Royals. Desperate to halt the flow of runs and get wickets, new captain Samson tried as many as eight bowlers but none could produce the desired result.
Poor fielding was also on display too, and the Punjab captain was its biggest beneficiary. In the seventh over, leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal created a chance but Ben Stokes at long-off ended up grassing the catch. Gopal went wicketless, leaking runs at 13.33 per over.
Probably the only bright spot for RR on the field was left-arm swing bowler Chetan Sakariya, who made his IPL debut on Monday. Despite the Saurashtra pacer getting hammered for 10 runs in his first over, Samson called Sakariya for the second over. The risk was worth it, as he sent Mayank Agarwal packing. In his attempt to play a cover drive, Agarwal ended up edging a full-length delivery straight into the hands of the’ keeper.