IPL

Ellis rocks Royals as Kings cling on to start with two wins

By Sports Desk April 05, 2023

Punjab Kings fended off a Rajasthan Royals fightback after a stunning spell from Nathan Ellis had teed up a five-run win that saw them start the 2023 IPL with back-to-back victories.

Both teams had enjoyed opening wins, and this match too could have gone either way despite the Kings appearing to be in complete control thanks to Ellis.

After Punjab captain Shikhar Dhawan did the heavy lifting with 86 not out to see his side finish on 197-4, Ellis (4-30) took a series of vital wickets to slow the Royals' response.

Luck was initially on the Australia bowler's side as an inside edge looped up off Jos Buttler's pad for a smart catch for 19.

Sanju Samson carried the scoring burden, making 42, before he too departed off the bowling of Ellis, who also accounted for Riyan Parag (20) from his next delivery, then bowled Devdutt Paddikal (21) later in the same over.

A deep Royals line-up still contained Shimron Hetmyer (36 off 18) and impact player Dhruv Jurel (32 not out off 15), and the pair combined for a quick 61.

But even with Ellis' allocation up, Hetmyer had himself run out in the final over as Sam Curran (0-44) just about kept the batting side at bay.

Chahal's slow progress

This was not a night IPL veteran Yuzvendra Chahal will reflect on particularly fondly, even if it saw him edge closer to the tournament's wickets record.

His figures of 1-50 were damaging – Punjab scoring easily despite some fine fielding, including from Buttler – but the wicket of Jitesh Sharma was his 171st in the IPL, moving ahead of Lasith Malinga and now trailing only Dwayne Bravo (183).

Electric Ellis excels

Both teams named unchanged XIs, meaning Ellis was preferred to 99-wicket Kagiso Rabada. The Australian had only five IPL wickets to his name prior to this match.

Ellis significantly added to that tally, however, his spell turning the tide and providing a reminder of the talent that saw him take a hat-trick on his T20I debut in 2021 – even if Curran's contribution was still required to get the job done.

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