Skipper Shikhar Dhawan’s unbeaten 86 and four wickets from Nathan Ellis helped Punjab Kings to their second straight IPL victory with a tense five-run win over Rajasthan Royals on Wednesday.
Punjab rode on the left-handed Dhawan’s 56-ball knock and his 90-run opening stand with Prabhsimran Singh, who hit 60, to post 197-4 after being invited to bat first in Guwahati.
Australia’s Ellis then starred in his second game of his IPL debut season to return figures of 4-30 and keep Rajasthan to 192-7, but not after a scare.
Shimron Hetmyer (36) and impact player Dhruv Jurel (32 not out) put on a dangerous stand of 61 off 26 balls to lift Rajasthan from a precarious 124-6 and raise hopes of a turnaround.
But the asking rate proved too much and Hetmyer’s run out in the final over, which started with Rajasthan needing 16, sealed the deal for Punjab with Sam Curran keeping calm in the 20th over.
“I think when it comes to those situations, you know if you nail your yorker, you’ll be okay,” said Curran, who became the most expensive IPL player when Punjab paid $2.23 million for him in the December auction, said.
“I was trying to get our ball changed because it was like soap. I don’t really understand why they (Rajasthan) got their ball changed but we can’t.”
Dhawan praised his bowlers, saying: “There were some nervous moments but I was keeping my calm and the same with the bowlers. There was a lot of dew. The bowlers did a great job.”
Rajasthan lost two early wickets to Arshdeep Singh’s left-arm pace and Ellis, named man of the match, soon took over when he sent back Jos Buttler, caught and bowled.
Ellis dismissed Sanju Samson for 42 and Riyan Parag for 20 with successive balls in different overs, although Hetmyer negotiated the hat-trick ball.
Earlier Prabhsimran set the tone for Punjab as the 22-year-old hit his maiden IPL fifty and struck three sixes.
Sri Lanka’s Bhanuka Rajapaksa injured his hand after getting hit at the non-striker’s end from the batsman’s shot and retired hurt on one.
Dhawan took time to get into the groove and allowed his younger partner to take centre stage as Prabhsimran smashed the bowlers around in his 34-ball knock.
He finally fell to a stunning outfield catch by Buttler who covered good ground from long-off to take a diving catch as his elbows hit the ground. Jason Holder was the bowler.
Dhawan stood firm and soon changed gears to take on the bowlers as he hit three boundaries in one over off Yuzvendra Chahal who was later substituted by Jurel under the new “impact player” rule.
Buttler took another good outfield catch but injured his finger in the process and came to bat one down instead of his usual opening slot.
Samson said Buttler’s finger needed stitches.