Cooper delivers

Kevon Cooper celebrates the wicket of Shaun Marsh.

MOHALI – Trinidad and Tobago’s Kevon Cooper starred and his Rajasthan Royals got a step closer to the Pepsi Indian Premier League’s 2013 Play-Offs with a comprehensive eight wicket win over Kings XI Punjab at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali today.

Rajasthan Royals, after restricting Kings XI Punjab to 145 for six, chased it down on the back of a responsible, undefeated 59 by Ajinkya Rahane.

Chasing a moderate 146, Royals lost skipper Rahul Dravid (4), castled by Bipul Sharma after being deceived by the flight. Rahane and Shane Watson got on with the task of rebuilding, adding 64 runs for the second wicket. Royals made 38 from their power play overs. Watson launched Sharma for a six before Rahane followed suit depositing Piyush Chawla into the crowd.

Rahane, in full flow, stepped out and hit Manpreet Gony for a maximum over the long-off fence. Chawla who was hit for a boundary by Watson (31) came back to bowl him with a quicker delivery bowled seam up.

At the halfway stage, Royals were 73 for two, still requiring 73 runs.†Sanju Vishwanadh and Rahane rotated the strike well and kept the scoreboard ticking. Rahane (59 not out) brought up his fifty with a brace off Parvinder Awana in the 17th over. He immediately slammed Awana over mid-wicket for a six. Vishwanadh (47 not out) then got into Gony, smashing him for a six and a boundary to see Royals home at the end of the 19th over.

Earlier, Royals won the toss and elected to field. Ajit Chandila struck in the very first over as Mandeep Singh (0) was beaten by the flight and chipped one straight back to the bowler. Kings XI got a move on after a quiet start with three boundaries off S Sreesanth in the fourth over. Adam Gilchrist, who returned to the team as captain hit consecutive boundaries off James Faulkner in the sixth over. Shaun Marsh then went after Chandila smashing him for a six and a boundary. At the halfway stage, Kings XI were 74 for one.

Marsh brought up his fifty with a flick to the boundary off Faulkner in the 13th over. But Cooper brought the Royals back into the match as he picked up three wickets to derail the Kings XI innings. He first deceived Gilchrist (42) to dismiss him caught and bowled. David Hussey (1) followed him bowled by his countryman Shane Watson. Marsh deposited Faulkner into the crowd before smashing him for a boundary in the 16th over. Cooper then struck twice dismissing Marsh (77) and David Miller (8) as Royals dragged back the match.

Cooper was named Man-of-the-Match.†

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