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Ajinkya Rahane’s free-flowing 98 followed by Kevon Cooper’s dream debut in the IPL helped Rajasthan win a largely one-sided home game against Kings XI Punjab by 31 runs.
After being inserted by Adam Gilchrist, Rajasthan controlled the game from the start under their new captain Rahul Dravid. Rahane targeted the straight field and extra cover with impressive regularity for his boundaries, striking 16 fours and a six in his 66-ball knock as Rajasthan piled 191-4.
Punjab pacer James Faulkner dismissed him in the penultimate over as he tried to bring up his hundred with a blow through extra cover. Rahane was aided well by his captain Dravid in a 77-run opening partnership.
Cooper, who plays for Trinidad & Tobago and is yet to make his debut for the West Indies, made an instant impression on his IPL debut. Facing Faulkner, he cut his first ball for a massive six over point, following that up with an edge past the wicketkeeper for four.
The evening continued to grow interesting for Cooper. He took an easy catch at mid-off to dismiss Gilchrist. He followed that up with a wicket each in his first three overs to dismiss Paul Valthaty, Shaun Marsh and Abhishek Nayar.
Cooper’s three overs ended the contest, with the best of Punjab’s batting gone. Cooper followed this up with David Hussey’s catch in the deep and Piyush Chawla’s wicket to complete a four-for.
Having had a hand in six of the eight dismissals in the Punjab innings, Cooper then ran out Praveen Kumar with a flat throw to the wicketkeeper all the way back from long-on to wrap up an incredible debut.