Sanju Samson magical 119 turned futile as Rajasthan Royals suffered a narrow four-run defeat against Punjab Kings in their opening IPL 2021 fixture at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday.
Chasing a 221-run total in Mumbai, Royals got off to a shaky start after losing Ben Stokes for a duck. They were also jolted with the departure of Manan Vohra (12) and Jos Buttler (25) by the end of eighth over.
Samson, however, single-handedly kept Royals in the contest by notching up a ton in his first appearance as the captain of the franchise. He was also briefly joined by all-rounders Shivam Dube and Riyan Parag, who hit cameos of 23 and 25 respectively.
With 13 required off the last over, a win for Royals would've been the icing on the cake for Samson. However, Arshdeep Singh's kept his nerves to deny Royals a win. Samson, with every shot in his book, got out while trying to clear the rope on the last delivery when his side needed five runs to win.
"I don't have words to tell, very close game, came close but unfortunately... I don't think I could have done anything more, timed it well, but unfortunately couldn't clear the man in the deep," said a disappointed Samson after the match.
Earlier, after being put in to bat, KL Rahul and Deepak Hooda decimated the RR bowling unit with their brilliant stroke-play. Rahul smashed seven fours and five sixes in his 50-ball 91 but eventually fell short of reaching the three-figure mark.
The PBKS skipper, who got a lucky reprieve after Ben Stokes dropped him at the fence in the seventh over, ran the show at Wankhede. Hooda also joined the party by hammering six maximums and a four to end up scoring 64 off 27 deliveries.
It was also Hooda's first game since playing the last IPL edition in the UAE. He was suspended for the season by the Baroda cricket body after he had a spat with state team captain Krunal Pandya in January.
"I was just reacting to the ball and showing aggressive intent in my batting. I got this role at No. 4 and I am happy to get this role, as I bat at this position in domestic cricket," said Hooda on Punjab pushing him ahead of West Indies' Nicholas Pooran.
A 105-run stand between Hooda and Rahul before Chris Gayle's 28-ball 40 drove the Punjab outfit to a hefty 221-run total. With Rahul and Hooda in the middle, they were able to add 111 runs in the final eight overs.
Punjab Kings 221/6 in 20 overs (K.L. Rahul 91, C Gayle 40, D Hooda 64, C Sakariya 3/31, C Morris 2/40) vs Rajasthan Royals 217/7 in 20 overs (S Samson 119, R Parag 25, J Buttler 25, S Dube 23, Arshdeep 3/35).