65th Match (N), Guwahati, May 15, 2024, Indian Premier League
(18.5/20 ov, T:145) 145/5

PBKS won by 5 wickets (with 7 balls remaining)

Player Of The Match
63* (41) & 2/24
Cricinfo's MVP
153.07 ptsImpact List

Curran sends Royals crashing to fourth straight loss

The PBKS stand-in captain starred with 2 for 24 before taking his team home with an unbeaten 63

Himanshu Agrawal
Sam Curran swings the ball on the leg side, Rajasthan Royals vs Punjab Kings, IPL 2024, Guwahati, May 15, 2024

Sam Curran stayed unbeaten on 63 to take his team home  •  BCCI

Punjab Kings 145 for 5 (Curran 63*, Avesh 2-28, Chahal 2-31) beat Rajasthan Royals 144 for 9 (Parag 48, Ashwin 28, Curran 2-24, Chahar 2-26, Harshal 2-28) by five wickets
Form can change quickly in T20s, and in a league like IPL the non-stop action can quickly turn the tide too. Rajasthan Royals (RR) became the second team to prove that in this IPL after Royal Challengers Bengaluru. But unlike RCB, who have won five matches straight, RR have now lost four in a row after winning as many on the bounce to hurt their chances of a top-two finish.
The latest loss came in Guwahati, where Sam Curran and the rest of the Punjab Kings (PBKS) bowlers combined to first restrict RR to 144. Curran, who picked up 2 for 24, led PBKS' charge with the bat with an unbeaten 63 to complete the chase with seven balls and five wickets to spare. That, after PBKS had slipped to 48 for 4 in eight overs.
Curran's heroics spoiled local boy Riyan Parag's day, who scored 48, exactly one-third of RR's total.

Curran rings in the changes

Sanju Samson had opted to bat in the first game at the Barsapara Stadium this IPL. And after four overs, the game wasn't going either ways, with RR on 31 for 1. Curran had Yashasvi Jaiswal chopping on off the fourth ball of the day after the first one was driven through cover for four.
Samson hit three boundaries off his first eight balls, with a punch off Arshdeep Singh from the full face of the bat. At the other end, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, who came in for Jos Buttler, had started rather sedately.
Curran then introduced Nathan Ellis for the fifth over. Ellis bowled cutters on a slow pitch where the ball seemed to stop, and even banged some on a hard length to test the batters. And that is when RR slowed down. The next 3.2 overs went for only 11 runs, with both Samson and Kohler-Cadmore departing for 18.

Parag, Ashwin fight in middle overs

PBKS bowled ten dot balls in three overs, starting with the sixth one. While Ellis and Harshal Patel used the variations to great effect, Rahul Chahar found turn. With two right-hand batters in Parag and R Ashwin at the crease, Curran gave the ninth over to left-arm spinner Harpreet Brar. But Ashwin managed a streaky boundary to get ten off the over.
RR had only 68 on the board after 11 overs, when Ashwin counterattacked. He slogged Chahar over midwicket for six, before reverse sweeping and lofting him over the covers for four. But Arshdeep ended Ashwin's party in the next over by having him caught at deep point after an entertaining 28 from 19 balls.
Parag, though, continued to fight, even as RR were 102 for 6 midway into the 15th over. By then, Curran had removed Dhruv Jurel for a duck, while Chahar had Rovman Powell caught and bowled for 4. The death overs (17-20) began with RR on 113, before Parag walloped and sliced Arshdeep for consecutive fours.
PBKS denied Parag the strike in the entire 19th over. Come the 20th, Harshal trapped Parag for 48 with his trademark dipping, slow full toss, as the Purple Cap switched heads again, with Harshal finishing the day on 22 wickets, two ahead of Jasprit Bumrah.

Curran, Jitesh spoil RR's top-two chances

No. 6 Jitesh Sharma had joined Curran at the crease after RR slowed the chase down. Despite Rillee Rossouw counterattacking after the early loss of Prabhsimran Singh - it was an IPL record 28th time that Trent Boult had struck in the first over - RR had PBKS at 37 for 3 after five overs. When Yuzvendra Chahal had Jonny Bairstow caught at long-on for a scratchy 14 off 22, PBKS were reeling at 48 for 4.
But Jitesh and Curran didn't allow RR to run away with the game just yet. Jitesh pulled his second ball for six, before Curran managed a lucky four off the bottom edge off Chahal. They kept ticking over singles while also finding the occasional boundary, with Curran swiping Chahal wide of long-on, swatting Ashwin to deep extra cover, and whipping Boult behind square, all in consecutive overs.
The required rate had risen up to 9.33 an over with six overs left, when both Jitesh and Curran pumped a six each off Ashwin. But Jitesh was caught off Chahal in the next over, before PBKS brought on Ashutosh Sharma as an Impact Sub, and the match was soon over.
Ashutosh ramped Avesh for four, before Curran and Ashutosh smashed three sixes in the space of five balls to level scores and soon seal victory.

Himanshu Agrawal is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Win Probability
PBKS 100%
100%50%100%RR InningsPBKS Innings

Over 19 • PBKS 145/5

PBKS won by 5 wickets (with 7 balls remaining)
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