Michael Lumb sparkled with a blazing innings of 83 as Rajasthan Royals crushed Kings XI Punjab by nine wickets and boosted their hopes of making it to the semi-finals in the Indian Premier League, in Jaipur, on Wednesday.
Lumb was at his devastating best; he slammed 16 boundaries and two sixes in his 43-ball knock, as Rajasthan cruised home, scoring 157 for 1 in 15 overs.
The emphatic victory also helped them maintain their perfect home record at the Sawai Mansingh stadium, where they haven't lost in eight matches so far.
Lumb set Rajasthan on their way, putting on 109 runs in 57 deliveries for the opening wicket with Naman Ojha.
Opener Ojha continued his good run in the tournament, finishing unbeaten on 44 from 37 balls, while Yusuf Pathan made 21 from 13.
Rajasthan pacers Siddharth Trivedi and Aditya Dole took two wickets each earlier to restrict Kings XI Punjab to a modest 153 for six in their 20 overs.
Trivedi again excelled with the ball, claiming two for 22 in four overs, while Dole took two for 36 as Rajasthan choked the runs in the final overs, allowing no boundaries in the final five overs.
Kings XI Punjab:
Manvinder Bisla raced off the blocks, hitting pacer Aditya Dole for two boundaries in the opening over. He added two more to his kitty by hitting Shane Watson through point and mid-on in the next over.
It was Watson though who struck first for Rajasthan. Bisla, who was peppered with a few short deliveries, top-edged a pull shot and was caught at square leg for 20 off 14 balls.
Mahela Jayawardene, who hit a century in the previous match, hit the first six of the match when he attempted the paddle sweep off pacer Dole but got a leading edge, which flew over the slips for maximum. He then cut the next delivery through point for a boundary to take his team to 42 for 1 after five overs.
Captain Kumar Sangakkara again failed to deliver, throwing his wicket away with a reckless shot. He charged down to Siddharth Trivedi and attempted to heave him across the line but was caught by Yusuf Pathan at midwicket for nine.
Shane Warne got a huge cheer from local fans when he came on to bowl. But all those cheers died down out when Yuvraj Singh carted him over midwicket for a huge six. The Australian spin legend went for 16 runs in the ninth over.
Jayawardene was showing his class against the spinners as he hit Warne and Pathan for a boundary in back-to-back overs. Fortune also favoured the Punjab opener as Dole dropped a simple catch at square leg when the batsman, on 36, chipped it straight at him off Pathan.
Yuvraj was in mood to let Warne settle down. He swept the Rajasthan captain for a powerful flat six over square leg, and off the next delivery chipped down the wicket and lofted another six back over the sightscreen. He then swept the last ball of the over for a boundary to take Rajasthan past the 100-run mark in the 11th over. Warne was hit for 33 in his two overs.
But, as is the case in the tournament so far with Punjab, their batsmen again threw their wickets away after getting starts.
It was Dole who brought Rajasthan back in the contest as he took two wickets in his third over. First, Yuvraj dragged one back on to his stumps as he attempted to pull Dole through midwicket and was bowled for a quick 28 from 16 balls.
Warne then showed great presence of mind as he put in a slip to put some pressure on Punjab. The move paid off. Jaywardene tried to hit one through the leg side but got a leading edge and was taken by Warne himself at first slip. He was out after a good innings of 44 from 33 balls, as Punjab were reduced to 109 for four after 12 overs.
Punjab also didn't help their cause, as Ravi Bopara was run-out after scoring eight.
Just 25 runs had come in five overs, with just a single boundary, as Punjab struggled to 134 for five after 17 overs.
Piyush Chawla struggled for 11 from 15 balls before he lofted Trivedi to Abhishek Jhunjhunwala on the long-on boundary in the final over.
Irfan Pathan finished unbeaten on 24 from 23 balls as Punjab ended up with a modest 153 for six in their 20 overs.
It was a superb bowling performance by Rajasthan's bowlers in the death overs; just 27 runs came without a single boundary. In fact, Punjab lost their way in the second half of the match, as just 67 runs came in the last ten overs for the loss of four wickets.
Trivedi, who took two for 22 in four overs, was Rajasthan's best bower.
Watson kept the runs in check, giving away just 19 runs in his four overs while taking a wicket. He contributed with 14 of the 41 dot balls the Rajasthan managed between them.
If setting a low target was not enough, Punjab gifted their opponents some free runs with lacklustre fielding. In the opening over, Ramesh Powar misfielded at thirdman to give Michael Lumb a boundary. S Sreesanth also didn't help his cause when he dropped one short and Lumb helped himself to another boundary in the same over.
The Rajasthan opener got another couple of boundaries in the next over, the second, from Ramesh Powar with a sweep shot and a leading edge that went over the mid-off fielder.
In fact, Irfan Pathan, at mid-off, misjudged the ball and charged in before realising he had come in too far, but then it was too late as the ball went over him.
Sreesanth came up with a horrible third over as he pitched short and bowled a couple of no-balls. Once again he was hit for a couple of fours by Lumb as Rajasthan raced to 35 for no loss after three overs.
Lumb then took Juan Theron to the cleaners in his opening over, smashing him for three boundaries and a six to take Rajasthan past 50 in the fourth over.
Naman Ojha then joined in the party, hitting Powar for back-to-back boundaries in his second over as Rajasthan raced to 65 after five overs.
Lumb brought up his maiden half-century in the IPL off 28 deliveries, having hit 10 boundaries and a six, in the sixth over. He then took the attack to left-arm spinner Bipul Sharma, who he hit for back-to-back boundaries, the second coming off a misfield by Jayawardene on the midwicket fence.
Irfan Pathan also suffered at the hands of Lumb as the left-hander smashed him for four boundaries in his opening over to take the hosts past the 100-run mark in the ninth over.
Finally Punjab got the big wicket of Lumb, who was caught at square leg off Bopara for 83. The left-hander hit 16 boundaries and two sixes in his 43-ball knock to put his team in the driver's seat as Rajasthan put up 111 for one after ten overs.
Yusuf was promoted up the order and he showed his power when he flicked a full delivery from Bopara over long-on for a six, in the 12th over.
Pathan then got his second six, pulling Sreesanth over midwicket for a six, while Ojha edged one wide off the keeper for a boundary to win the match for Rajasthan.
Ojha finished unbeaten on 44 from 37 balls and Pathan was not out on 21 from 13 balls as Rajasthan cruised to 157 for one in 15 overs to win by nine wickets and five overs to spare.
In the end, it turned out to be one-sided contest as Punjab were outplayed in all departments.
Rajasthan thus boosted their chances of making it to the semis after moving to third in the standings with 12 points from 11 matches, while Punjab stay bottom after losing their eighth match in ten outings.