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Rajasthan and Gujarat enjoy winning starts in Indian Premier League cricket

JAIPUR, India (AP) — Sanju Samson scored 82 not out off 52 balls as Rajasthan Royals beat Lucknow Super Giants by 20 runs on Sunday to make a winning start in cricket's lucrative Indian Premier League, and Gujarat Titans did enough in the final over to defeat Mumbai Indians by six runs.

Samson’s half-century helped anchor the Royals’ innings, as the team reached 193-4 in 20 overs.

In reply, Nicholas Pooran’s 64 not out went in vain as Lucknow faltered in its chase to end up with 173-6. Skipper Lokesh Rahul scored 58 off 44 balls.

Opting to bat first, Rajasthan made a speedy start but also lost its openers early. Jos Buttler was caught behind for 11 and rising star Yashasvi Jaiswal made 24 off 12 balls, including three fours and a six, before chipping a catch straight to mid on.

With the score at 49-2 in five overs, Samson came together with Riyan Parag, who was promoted to No. 4 after showing good domestic form, and it paid off.

The duo added 93 off 59 balls for the third wicket, with Parag scoring 43 off 29 balls. He hit three sixes to provide a launch pad for Samson at the other end.

Samson scored 50 off 30, including two fours and four sixes. He hit another two sixes, adding another 32 runs off the last 22 balls he faced.

Afghanistan pacer Naveen ul Haq picked up 2-41 in four overs, including Parag who was out caught in the 15th over.

While Shimron Hetmyer was out cheaply to Ravi Bishnoi’s wrist spin, Dhruv Jurel hit 20 not out off 12 balls.

Samson and Jurel added 43 off 22 as the Royals finished strongly.

New Zealand pacer Trent Boult (2-35) then provided two early breakthroughs as Lucknow was down to 11-3 in 3.1 overs.

Quinton de Kock was caught for four, while Devdutt Padikkal – who had transferred from Rajasthan to Lucknow in the winter window – was bowled for a three-ball duck.

Impact substitute Nandre Burger had Ayush Badoni caught behind for just one but Rahul and Deepak Hooda resisted with a 49-run partnership off 26 balls for the fourth wicket.

Just when things appeared to look settled, wrist spinner Yuzvendra Chahal dismissed Hooda who had come in as an impact sub. He scored a 13-ball 26s.

Pooran and Rahul added 85 off 52 balls for the fifth wicket, and their partnership put Lucknow back on track.

Rahul scored 50 off 35 deliveries, while Pooran got to 50 off 30 balls, as the chase looked on with 49 runs needed off the last four overs.

The skipper was out caught immediately after the timeout break, puncturing Lucknow’s momentum.

Ravichandran Ashwin sent back big hitting Marcus Stoinis for just three. With 38 runs needed off the last two overs, Pooran couldn’t finish things off for Lucknow. He finished unbeaten, hitting four sixes and four fours in all.

Sandeep Sharma bowled immaculately at the death, finishing with 1-22 in three overs.

GUJARAT WINS THRILLER

Mumbai's bid to finally beat Gujarat at Ahmedabad's Narendra Modi Stadium was foiled again in a thrilling finish to Sunday's late game.

Hardik Pandya, who led Gujarat in the 2022 and 2023 seasons, came back to his former home ground only to watch Shubman Gill make a winning start as Titans captain.

Chasing 169 to win, Mumbai was propped up by 46 runs from impact substitute Dewald Brevis. Former skipper Rohit Sharma scored 43 off 29 balls.

The duo added 77 runs off 55 balls for the third wicket. Sharma fell in the 13th over, out lbw to left arm spinner Sai Kishore (1-24). But Mumbai was in the driver’s seat, needing 48 runs off the last 36 balls with seven wickets in hand.

Gujarat's pacers then scripted a brilliant turnaround. Impact substitute Mohit Sharma (2-32) held a return catch from Brewis, and then had big hitting Tim David caught in the deep for 11.

Australian pacer Spencer Johnson sent back Tilak Varma (25) and Gerald Coetzee, leaving Mumbai struggling at 150-7.

Pandya smacked 11 off four balls to raise hopes of victory, but he was caught at the boundary in the final over. Veteran pacer Umesh Yadav (2-31) defended 19 off the last over and restricted Mumbai to 162-9 in 20 overs.

Earlier, Gujarat rode on Sai Sudharsan’s 39-ball 45 to score 168-6 after losing the toss.

Gill made a quick start, scoring 31 off 22 balls, and was aided by Wriddhiman Saha who scored 19 off 15 balls.

Jasprit Bumrah applied the brakes throughout Titans’ innings, bowling four one-over spells, and finished with 3-14. He bowled Saha, while both Sudharsan and David Miller (12) were caught off the bowler.

Sudharsan’s dismissal in the 17th over left Gujarat at 134-5, but then Rahul Tewatia’s 22 off 15 balls turned out to be crucial.

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