Captain's knock: Samson guides Royals to 20-run win over Super Giants

Rajasthan Royals choose to bat against Lucknow Super Giants in IPL opener
Rajasthan Royals batter Sanju Samson plays a shot during the IPl 2024 T20 cricket match between Lucknow Super Giants and Rajasthan Royals at SMS Stadium, in Jaipur, Sunday, March 24, 2024.
Rajasthan Royals batter Sanju Samson plays a shot during the IPl 2024 T20 cricket match between Lucknow Super Giants and Rajasthan Royals at SMS Stadium, in Jaipur, Sunday, March 24, 2024.

Jaipur | Skipper Sanju Samson led from the front with an unbeaten 82 to steer former champions Rajasthan Royals to confident 20-run win over Lucknow Super Giants in their IPL opener, here Sunday.

Samson hit half a dozen of sixes along with three fours in his 52-ball-knock, which was replete with spectacular hits in all parts of the ground.

His knock provided Royals both impetus and stability after twin blows in the Powerplay.

With Riyan Parag (43) also playing his part well by forging a 93-run association for the third wicket to consolidate for their side, Royals batting did come good in their opening game.

LSG fought through KL Rahul (58) and Nicholas Pooran (64 not out) after a disastrous start but their brave effort only reduced the defeat-margin while chasing a huge target of 194.

LSG, who wobbled at 11/3, eventually finished at 173 for six.

Skipper Rahul struck a fine fifty on his return to top flight cricket, scoring 58 off 44 balls with four fours and two sixes. He also kept wickets for a full 20 overs to remove doubts, if any, about his fitness after suffering a quadriceps injury.

Not just Rahul but Pooran also took the fight to the rival camp with a 41-ball 64, hammering four sixes and as many fours to take the game as deep as possible but Rajasthan edged ahead with two points.

Lucknow were off to a poor start with Royals' overseas left-arm duo of Trent Boult (2/35) and debutant Nandre Burger (1/30), coming on as an impact sub, causing the damage.

On an innocuous delivery straying down wide of the leg stump, Quinton de Kock attempted to clear the ropes off Boult but hit straight to Burger positioned for exactly the same shot for an easy grab.

In his next over, Boult hit Devdutt Padikkal (0) on the helmet off a short ball and got the next one to skid and crash into the middle-stump to knock it out of the ground.

Ayush Badoni (1) then played one straight to Jos Buttler at mid-on off Burger as LSG were left tottering at 11 for three inside the first four overs.

Deepak Hooda came in as an impact sub for LSG and led the recovery for his side, but an increasing asking rate meant risks had to be taken.

The right-hander perished when he attempted to clear the ropes against Yuzvendra Chahal for a 13-ball 26 studded with two sixes and as many fours, having put on 49 for the fourth wicket with Rahul.

With their backs against the wall, Rahul led a robust recovery for LSG in company of Pooran as the two batters raised the hopes of a win with an 85-run stand for the fifth wicket.

Neither Rahul nor Pooran took unwanted risks despite the asking rate hovering around 12 runs an over, and picked their bowlers to attack.

In the 11th over, Rahul went after Burger to hammer 17 runs with a six and two fours off the last three balls and in the 13th, Pooran smacked two sixes and a four off Boult to collect 13 runs.

But Sandeep Sharma (1/22) jolted LSG’s chase with the key wicket of Rahul, getting him caught by Dhruv Jurel at sweeper cover and Ashwin sent back dangerous Marcus Stoinis (3) bu having him caught by Dhruv Jurel at deep midwicket, leaving them with 38 runs to get from last two overs.

The fate of the game was set in the penultimate over when Sandeep gave away only 11 runs even though Riyan Parag spilled a tough chance to get rid of Pooran.

Earlier in the first half, Sanju Samson yet again made a fiery start to his IPL campaign with a belligerent 82 not out as Rajasthan Royals posted a competitive 193 for four.

If Samson appeared in his usual element, playing strokes that make him a compelling watch, Parag looked calm in his approach, pouncing on every opportunity that came his way.

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