A file photo of KL Rahul. Photograph:( PTI )
KL Rahul's blistering knock of 84 runs off 54 deliveries helped Punjab defeat Rajasthan at Holkar Stadium in Indore on Sunday.
Rahul laced seven boundaries and three sixes to notch up his third half-century in IPL 2018.
Alongside Marcus Stoinis, he stitched a blistering 63-run partnership to keep Punjab well alive in the race for the playoffs.
In starting, Punjab faltered after Chris Gayle departed early on scoring a single-digit figure, while Mayank Agarwal was dismissed off a shorter delivery by Ben Stokes.
Karun Nair then joined in KL Rahul in the middle to lace a crucial 50-run partnership for the fourth-wicket.
Punjab bowlers displayed a class attack to restrict opponent Rajasthan to a paltry total of 152 runs.
The Ajinkya Rahane-led team lost wickets in a heap to the spinners in the middle after Buttler made a fifty as an opener.
Buttler took 39 balls to reach his half-century which included seven fours.
Apart from him, Sanju Samson and Shreyas Gopal are the only two players to reach the 20 digit mark.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman turned out to be the trump card for Punjab today as he took three crucial wickets in four wickets giving 27 runs.
Andrew Tye also claimed two wickets to reduced Rajasthan's early.
Earlier, Punjab skipper R Ashwin won the toss and opted to bowl against Rajasthan at Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore on Sunday.
Punjab are placed fourth in the table with five wins and three losses from eight appearances and will be keen on bringing their campaign back on track.
The franchise have made an important change in their playing eleven. They have brought in Manoj Tiwary in place of veteran Yuvraj Singh.
Speaking after the toss, Ashwin said,""We will bowl first. I think this is going to be a good wicket. Better than the last game, we were expecting a high score in the last match but wicket was not that good."
"We are expecting a high scoring match today. Yuvraj misses out and Manoj comes in," he concluded.
Rajasthan, on the other hand, are also coming off two straight defeats and would also be looking to regain their lost momentum.
When asked about their strategy for today, its skipper Ajinkya Rahane said, "It's all about how we think. We are happy to bat first, the preparation has been fantastic and we are looking forward to bat first."
"We just got one change. Anureet Singh comes in for Dhawal Kulkarni. It's important for us to do well. Looks a good wicket. Every wicket is important, every run is important, every ball is important throughout the 40 overs and really looking forward to play well tonight," he added.
Rajasthan cannot afford another defeat from here as it would almost crush their dream of a play-off berth.
Rajasthan (Playing XI): Jos Buttler(w), D Arcy Short, Ajinkya Rahane(c), Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Rahul Tripathi, Krishnappa Gowtham, Jofra Archer, Shreyas Gopal, Anureet Singh, Jaydev Unadkat
Punjab (Playing XI): Lokesh Rahul(w), Chris Gayle, Karun Nair, Mayank Agarwal, Marcus Stoinis, Manoj Tiwary, Ravichandran Ashwin(c), Axar Patel, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Ankit Rajpoot, Andrew Tye