IPL: Sanju Samson crosses 500 run-mark but Rajasthan Royals struggle against Punjab Kings

R Ashwin (28, 19b, 3x4, 1x6) and Parag (48, 34, 6x4) batted the best for RR

Rajasthan Royals captain Sanju Samson Rajasthan Royals captain Sanju Samson's shot that got him dismissed against PBKS | AP

Despite a well-tuned 48 from local boy Riyan Parag, Rajasthan Royals struggled against an array of accurate bowlers on a rather slow pitch, meandering to a sub-par 144 for nine against Punjab Kings in the IPL on Wednesday.

R Ashwin (28, 19b, 3x4, 1x6) and Parag (48, 34, 6x4) tried to accelerate during their 50-run stand for the fourth wicket but it could only bring in a temporary momentum for RR, who have already qualified for the playoffs.

In fact, lethargy had set in very early in the Rajasthan innings after the early loss of Yashasivi Jaiswal, who chopped a Sam Curran (2/24) delivery back on to his stumps.

Sanju Samson (18), who went past 500-run in a season for the first time in his IPL career, and Tom-Kohler Cadmore (18, 23b) stitched 36 runs for the second wicket but took six overs for it.

They played some eye-catching shots too in between such as Cadmore's massive six over deep mid-wicket off Curran and Samson's backfoot punch through covers for four off left-arm seamer Arshdeep Singh.

But with Curran and Arshdeep finding a hint of swing and maintaining a good line, scoring was not an easy proposition for the RR batters.

Eventually, Samson, who tried a hopping cut off pacer Nathan Ellis, gave a simple catch to Rahul Chahar at point in the seventh over.

Cadmore too returned to the dugout in the next over, as his almighty heave off leg-spinner Chahar (2/26) could not progress beyond Jitesh Sharma in the deep.

Those twin dismissals actually paved the way for the best phase in the Royals' innings as Ashwin and Parag pressed their foot on the right pedal.

Ashwin displayed his batting skills, smashing Chahar for 17 runs in the 12th over that included a sequence of 6, 4, 4 and the first four was a stunning reverse scoop over backward point.

But he could not further extend his innings, lofting Arshdeep to Shashank Singh.

Parag, usually a free-flowing batter, had to curb his flair in front of a hugely adoring home crowd because of the regular fall of wickets at the other end.

But a late cut off Curran that sped to third man stood as a testament of his ability and timing as he also moved past the 500-run mark for the season, second time by an uncapped Indian player in the IPL after teammate Yashasvi Jaiswal (625) became the first in 2023 season. The first to cross 500 runs as an uncapped player was Australian Shaun Marsh (616 runs) in the inaugural edition in 2008 when he was yet to earn national cap.

However, apart from conquering those little peaks the RR batters failed to slip into the top gear consistently, and their hopes of a late charge too ended when Harshal Patel trapped Parag leg before.

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