Jaipur | The pitch was far from conducive for batting, but the bowlers still had a job to do, and the ones at Lucknow Super Giants did that with aplomb for a 10-run win over Rajasthan Royals in the IPL here on Wednesday.
Chasing 155, RR were stopped at 144 for six as their return to the Sawai Mansingh Stadium after four years ended in disappointment, despite a creditable outing with the ball earlier in the evening.
RR openers Jos Buttler and Yashavi Jaiswal knew that playing strokes wouldn't be easy on this track, but they managed to keep pace with the required run rate.
However, LSG staged a remarkable comeback to emerge winners in the end.
Young Jaiswal made 44 off 35 balls with the help of four boundaries and two sixes, while his senior opening partner Butter got 40 in 41.
LSG waited quite a bit before bringing their impact player Amit Mishra into action. And for their first breakthrough, they had to wait till the 12th over, when Jaiswal cut Marcus Stoinis to the short third man fielder Avesh Khan, who seemed to have injured his hand while completing a low catch.
Despite losing a wicket, RR were still in the driver's seat but that changed after Sanju Samson was run out following a horrible mix up with Buttler. The game turned on its head when Buttler holed out to deep midwicket to RR at 97 for three in the 14th over.
Shimron Hetmyer joined Devdutt Padikkal in a crucial passage of play, but the former was out caught in the deep off the bowling of Avesh Khan. RR couldn't do much after that.
Earlier, Kyle Mayers top-scored with 51 before Marcus Stoinis (21 off 16 balls) and Nicholas Pooran (28 off 20) helped the team reach 154 for seven.
Trent Boult bowled exceptionally to finish with figures 1-16 in four overs, while Ravichandran Ashwin was also excellent with the ball, ending with 2/23 from his four.
Seasoned New Zealander Boult sent down two brilliant overs to justify RR skipper Samson's decision to field first after winning the toss.
As Boult, one of the world's leading seamers for more than a decade, went about his task in his usual manner, KL Rahul looked clueless and the pressure created by the crafty bowler got to the struggling LSK captain.
Unable to free his arms, Rahul ended up playing a Sandeep Sharma delivery in the air but the young Jaiswal fluffed the chance. He was on six at the time. After he added another six runs to his total, Rahul got another chance when Jason Holder, who normally has a safe pair of hands, dropped a skyer after running backwards from mid-off.
This was seven balls after Jaiswal had a shy at the bowler's end and missed a run out chance with Rahul well out of crease.
Those two missed chances miffed Samson no end but RR did not have to pay a heavy price as Rahul got out for an unconvincing 32-ball 39.
Having consumed that many deliveries, Rahul would have liked to carry his bat though the RR innings, but Holder had him with a nicely executed slower ball.
After conceding only two runs in the first two overs and 13 in his third, Boult, deservedly, got on the wicket column when he knocked over Ayush Badoni's leg stump.
The missed chances notwithstanding, the RR bowlers were parsimonious and kept LSG to 37 for no loss in the six powerplay overs on a pitch that wasn't the best for batting.
On and off, Mayers managed to find the boundaries, including going down the ground to hit Yuzvendra Chahal over long off for a maximum in the ninth over. Four balls later, Rahul got into the act by smoking the leg-spinner for a huge six over the deep mid wicket fence.