PUNE, April 10 (PTI): Australian all-rounder James Faulkner conjured up a crucial 46-run knock and then took three wickets as Rajasthan Royals pipped Kings XI Punjab by 26 runs in their Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket match here today.
Royals managed to get on board a respectable 162 for seven, thanks to Faulkner�s fearless batting, after being invited to bat on a pitch which had a lot of grass.
Faulkner�s valuable knock, in which he punished the rival bowlers with two fours and three sixes, came when Royals were gasping at 75 for five.
His 51-run stand with debutant Deepak Hooda (30) was also crucial in their recovery apart from skipper Steven Smith�s 33-run knock from 23 balls. Pacers Mitchell Johnson (2/34) and Anureet Singh (3/23) shared five wickets between them for Punjab.
Royals bowlers kept it tight from the beginning, not giving Punjab batsmen runs freely and took wickets at regular intervals. Their fielding was outstanding and played a significant role in their win as they pulled off two stunning catches and an equal number of runouts.
Faulkner (3/26) accounted for dangerous Glenn Maxwell along with rival skipper George Bailey in his three-wicket haul while Tim Southee took two wickets for 36 runs as Punjab finished at 136 for eight.
The start to Punjab�s chase was horrible as Virender Sehwag was out for a golden duck and Wriddhiman Saha (7) was run out in an utter confusion with Murali Vijay. Maxwell was the victim of a sensational catch by Southee off Faulkner as Punjab lost quick wickets, thanks to superb fielding effort by the Royals players.
Rajasthan Royals: A Rahane c Patel b Anureet Singh 0, S Samson lbw b Sandeep Sharma 5, S Smith c K Singh b Johnson 33, K Nair b Patel 8, S Binny c Saha b Johnson 13, D Hooda b Anureet Singh 30, J Faulkner c Miller b Anureet Singh 46, C Morris not out 6, T Southee not out 0. Extras: (LB-9, WD-12) 21. Total: (For 7 wickets in 20 overs) 162. Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-14, 3-35, 4-74, 5-75, 6-126, 7-160. Bowling: Sandeep Sharma 4-1-19-1, Anureet Singh 4-0-23-3, Axar Patel 4-0-34-1, Karanveer Singh 4-0-43-0, Mitchell Johnson 4-0-34-2.
Kings XI Punjab: V Sehwag c Samson b Southee 0, M Vijay run out 37, W Saha run out 7, G Maxwell c Southee b Faulkner 7, A Patel b Southee 24, D Miller c Faulkner b Kulkarni 23, G Bailey c Nair b Faulkner 24, M Johnson c Southee b Faulkner 0, A Singh not out 0, K Singh not out 5. Extras: (LB-2, WD-7) 9. Total: (For 8 wickets in 20 overs) 136. Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-32, 3-46, 4-64, 5-92, 6-122, 7-129, 8-131. Bowling: T Southee 4-0-36-2, C Morris 4-0-21-0, D Kulkarni 3-0-21-1, J Faulkner 4-0-26-3, P Tambe 3-0-15-0, S Binny 2-0-15-0.