Trent Boult came around the stumps before getting the ball to swing in from outside the off stump. As K.L. Rahul looked to flick it towards the leg-side, the delivery sneaked through to rattle the stumps.
After Shimron Hetmyer and Ravichandran Ashwin’s 68-run partnership for the fifth wicket guided Rajasthan Royals to 165-6, Boult struck twice in his opening over to eventually pave the way for his team’s three-run win against Lucknow Super Giants.
While Rahul was gone for a golden duck – his second in this edition of the Indian Premier League – Boult trapped K. Gowtham leg before on a duck, two deliveries later. And Lucknow continued to struggle since, despite Quinton de Kock (39, 32b, 2×4, 1×6) trying to rebuild the innings – first with Deepak Hooda and then with Krunal Pandya.
With Jason Holder, too, falling cheaply, Lucknow was reeling at 14-3 inside the first four overs, when Hooda forged a 38-run stand for the fourth wicket with de Kock, before debutant medium-pacer Kuldeep Sen castled him.
But that was not enough as Yuzvendra Chahal (4-41) dismissed the in-form Ayush Badoni in the 12th over, and struck again four overs later – this time removing de Kock and Krunal within a span of three balls.
Even though Marcus Stoinis (38, 17b, 2×4, 4×6) made an attempt towards the fag end, with 15 required off six deliveries, young Kuldeep – bowling the final over – held his nerve and ensured Lucknow fell short.
Earlier, things would have gone haywire for Rajasthan had Ashwin (28, 23b, 2×6) not put on 68 runs for the fifth wicket with Shimron Hetmyer (59 n.o., 36b, 1×4, 6×6) before retiring out.
By then, Gowtham (two for 30) had dismissed Devdutt Padikkal and Rassie van der Dussen, with Rajasthan reeling at 67-4. But Ashwin put the pressure back on Gowtham, hitting him for two consecutive sixes in the 16th over, which was followed by Hetmyer, who hit Holder for a couple of sixes and a boundary in the 18th over.
Lucknow will be disappointed with the way it allowed Rajasthan to fight back. Krunal dropped Hetmyer for 14 and the West Indies ace made the most of the opportunity. After openers Jos Buttler and Devdutt Padikkal brought up 42 runs inside the first five overs, there was a bit of fumbling. But with Ashwin and Hetmyer stepping up, things fell into place before Boult, Kuldeep and Chahal stepped up.