Jaipur, Apr 6: Ajinkya Rahane and Kevon Cooper powered Rajasthan Royals to a convincing 31-run victory over Kings XI Punjab in Game Four of IPL 5 at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium here on Friday night.
Punjab were never in the hunt in pursuit of 192 and surrendered to the Rahul Dravid-led team by 31 runs. Punjab managed 160/9 in 20 overs. It was a winning start for Rajasthan under their new captain Dravid. This was Rajasthan's 13th win in Jaipur in 18 games.
First, the victory was set up by Rahane with a 66-ball 98 and later that effort was well supported by Rajasthan's bowlers led by West Indies' all-rounder Cooper, who took four wickets for 25 after making an unbeaten 3-ball 11 with one four and a six.
Man-of-the-match Rahane had hogged the limelight with the bat, Cooper shone brighter under the lights. He was involved in seven dismissals of the nine wickets to fall. Besides taking four wickets, he took two catches and ran one batsman out.
Cooper has turned out to be a great pick for Rajasthan. He was bought during this year's auction for $50,000 and has shone on IPL debut. He became the second bowler in IPL history to take four wickets in first match. Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar had also taken four scalps for 14 on his IPL debut for Kolkata Knight Riders against Delhi Daredevils in 2008.
Punjab's batting heavyweights from Australia, captain Adam Gilchrist (27), David Hussey (13) and Shaun Marsh (7), failed to make an impact. It was Mandeep Singh who top scored for the side with a 25-ball 34.
Rajasthan Royals Innings Report
Young Ajinkya Rahane smashed his highest Twenty20 score of 66-ball 98 to power Rajasthan Royals to 191/4 in 20 overs against Kings XI Punjab
Royals were 82/1 in 10 overs and added 45 in the next five overs (127/2 in 15). In final 30 balls, the hosts plundered 64 runs.
Finally, IPL 5 came alive with a high score after previous three games had witnessed low totals.
It was Rahane's show all the way in perfect batting conditions. He was unlucky to miss out on a hundred as he was bowled in the final over of the innings. His 98 contained 16 boundaries and a lone six. 70 of his runs came in boundaries.
After sent into bat by the opposition captain Adam Gilchrist, Royals were off to a strong start. Skipper Rahul Dravid and Rahane set a solid foundation with an opening stand of 77 runs in 9.3 overs. The 23-year-old right-hander, Rahane from Mumbai, was the aggressive between the two.
Royals lost their skipper in the 10th over. Dravid made a 24-ball 28 with three fours. Harmeet Singh accounted for Dravid, who retired from international cricket last month. Soon, left-hander Ashok Maneria was sent back by legspinner Piyush Chawla for a duck.
Two wickets in as many overs pegged back the home team but Rahane and Australian Brad Hodge (21) ensured that their innings maintained a good run rate. Rahane's previous best in this format was 62 not out.
Rahane was excellent in the middle. He played shots all round the wicket. He hit a hat-trick of fours off Piyush in the 17th over to move into the 90s.
Earlier, Kings XI Punjab captain Adam Gilchrist won the toss and elected to field against Rajasthan Royals.
Royals are without Shane Watson, who is playing for Australia against West Indies in a Test series. This the first game for both teams in this edition.
South Africa's Johan Botha, Brad Hodge of Australia, West Indian Kevon Cooper and Owais Shah of England are the four overseas players for Royals.
For Punjab, it is an all-Australian quartet of Gilchrist, batsmen Shaun Marsh, David Hussey and left-arm paceman James Faulkner.
This is for the first time that Royals are without Shane Warne, who retired from IPL last year. He led the team to the title in 2009.
In Friday's earlier game, Pune Warriors stunned Mumbai Indians for a 29-run victory at the Wankhede Stadium.
Rajasthan Royals: Rahul Dravid (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Ashok Menaria, Brad Hodge, Sreevats Goswami (wicketkeeper), Ankeet Chavan, Owais Shah, Johan Botha, Kevon Cooper, Amit Singh, Siddarth Trivedi
Kings XI Punjab: Adam Gilchrist (captain and wicketkeeper), Piyush Chawla, David Hussey, Praveen Kumar, Shaun Marsh, Abhishek Nayar, Paul Valthaty, Harmeet Singh, Mandeep Singh, Bipul Sharma, James Faulkner.
Umpires: Billy Bowden (New Zealand) and Shahvir Tarapore (India)
Third Umpire: Vineet Kulkarni (India)
Match Referee: Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka)