Royals in second place after eight-wicket victory
Rajasthan Royals 147 for 2 (Rahane 59*, Samson 47*) beat Kings XI Punjab 145 for 6 (Marsh 77, Cooper 3-23) by 8 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A masterful death bowling effort, and Ajinkya Rahane's third straight fifty, helped consolidate Rajasthan Royals' place in the top four as they beat Kings XI Punjab by eight wickets in Mohali. Kevon Cooper was the primary architect of Kings XI's slow-down towards the end of their innings, as his measured slower deliveries exploited the slow nature of the Mohali surface, and swept away much of the momentum Shaun Marsh and Adam Gilchrist had secured in a 102-run stand. Having arrived at the 14th over at 100 for 1, Kings XI could only stumble to 145 for 6 in their 20 overs and the batsmen failed to hit a boundary in the last four overs of their innings.
Cooper's first victim was Gilchrist, who reinstated himself in the side after three matches. He had batted securely for 42 from 32, and helped Marsh overcome an indifferent start, until he offered Cooper a return catch off an offcutter that took longer to arrive than he had anticipated. Cooper returned in the 17th over, proving difficult to get away, and should have had Marsh out then, had Rahul Dravid held on to a catch running back from cover. Cooper got both Marsh and David Miller next over though, again off slower balls, as both men perished attempting heaves across the line. He finished with 3 wickets for 23 from his four overs.
At the toss, Dravid had cited his side's preference for chasing scores as a reason for fielding first, and his choice proved an insightful one as Royals executed a smooth run chase to record their seventh-straight victory batting second. Dravid was uncharacteristically undone by the flight of a dipping Bipul Sharma delivery, but Rahane steadied the chase, alongside Shane Watson, and they rarely allowed the run rate to waver.
The pitch seemed to quicken as the match headed to its denouement - again a phenomenon Dravid had expected at the toss - and the hosts' fast bowlers could not build any pressure on the batsmen. Among Rahane's finest strokes was a languid six over extra-cover off Piyush Chawla, and an arrogant punch through the covers off Parvinder Awana.
Watson and Rahane put on 66 before Watson was dismissed by Chawla. Rahane subsequently gained a bundle of spirited raw-talent in 18-year-old Sanju Samson, who actually outshone Rahane in the latter part of the innings. The pair relied largely on singles and twos to form the base of their partnership, but quickly began finding the boundary as well, Samson doing so with particular audacity. He was unbeaten on 47 from 33 after hitting the winning boundary at the end of the 19th over, with Rahane on 59 from 49.
Marsh's 64-ball 77 was the backbone of Kings XI's foundation, but their failure to kick on from a good start ultimately cost them the match.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here