A 20-run loss against Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur is not exactly how we wanted to start our IPL 2024 campaign but a strong fight from our returning kaptaan KL Rahul and Nicholas Pooran definitely leaves us with a good platform to build on.

After winning the toss and electing to bat first, the hosts, powered by their skipper Sanju Samson’s unbeaten 82 off 52, posted a massive 193/4 in their 20 overs on a slow surface.

In reply, Nicky P’s unbeaten 64 off 41 and Rahul’s 58 off 44 steadied our ship after a rocky start but the match eventually slipped away as we ended our run-chase on 173/6.

Naveen provides a good start

Bowling first, we had to neutralise the opening partnership of Yashasvi Jaiswal and Jos Buttler upfront and our Afghan warrior rose to the challenge.

After being hit for two boundaries by Buttler in the second over, Naveen-ul-Haq (2/41) outfoxed the English opener and had him caught behind.

Mohsin Khan (1/45) then dismissed Jaiswal on the final ball of the powerplay to keep the Royals at 49/2 in six overs.

Samson and Riyan Parag laid the platform for the hosts with a solid 93-run partnership.

Naveen, brought back for the 15th over to break the stand, delivered once again. A slower bouncer outside off tested Parag, who did not get the power to heave it all the way and was caught at deep-backward square.

Naveen returned to bowl the 19th over and gave away just eight runs without conceding a boundary.

Sanju Samson’s feisty knock, however, helped the Royals put up a monumental 193 on board. Ravi Bishnoi (1/38) was also among wickets for us.

Rocky start

Chasing a challenging 194 to win on a slightly slow surface, we were reduced to 11/3 in 3.1 overs. Quinton de Kock, debutant Devdutt Padikkal and Ayush Badoni were all sent back early.

Deepak Hooda’s quickfire 26 off 13 boosted our run-rate while KL Rahul held fort at the other end.

Rahul, Pooran set the stage on fire

Hooda’s dismissal in the eighth over brought in Pooran at the crease. Along with the skipper, Nicky P played a couple of overs cautiously but it wasn’t long before the duo unleashed a flurry of fours and sixes to chip away at the required run rate.

We were 76/4 in 10 overs. However, an 85-run partnership from 52 balls for the fifth wicket left us with 49 runs to get in the final four overs.

KL’s wicket on the first ball of the 17th over swung the momentum back in RR’s favour and despite Nicky P staying on till the end, bowling variations from Sandeep Sharma, Ravi Ashwin and Avesh Khan made it difficult for us. We ended up 20 runs short of our target.

What next for the Super Giants?

We will head back to our fortress, the BRSABV Ekana Cricket Stadium, to prepare for our first home match of the season against Punjab Kings on Saturday.

Brief Scores: Rajasthan Royals 193/4 in 20 overs (Sanju Samson 82; Naveen-ul-Haq 2/41) beat Lucknow Super Giants 173/6 in 20 overs (Nicholas Pooran 64*, Trent Boult 2/35) by 20 runs.