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    Rajasthan thump Punjab to stay alive

    Having scored 177 after electing to bat first, Rahul Dravid\'s men restricted Kings XI Punjab to 134 for 8.

    Rajasthan Royals produced an all-round show as they thumped Kings XI Punjab by 43 runs to end their four-match losing streak in the Indian Premier League here on Saturday. Chasing 178 for a win, KXIP were in the game only for a brief while when opener Shaun Marsh (34) was going great guns with some lusty hits but once he was out in the ninth over it was all over for the home side as they lost wickets at regular intervals.

    Chasing a competitive 178, Punjab got off to shaky start losing opener Mandeep Singh in the second over to Shane Watson. Marsh then up the ante with some big shots but soon Punjab lost their skipper David Hussey and Punjab were reduced to 55 for 3 in eight overs. But just when Marsh looked settled, Johan Botha unleashed a peach of a delivery to clean bowled the left-hander.

    Azhar Mahmood and Gurkeerat Singh tried to stabilise the innings but with the run-rate rising with every passing over, Punjab's defeat looked inevitable and the home team managed 134 for 8 in their allotted overs.

    Earlier, the Rajasthan Royals compiled a challenging 177 for 6 in their IPL encounter with the Punjab. Skipper Rahul Dravid crafted a classy 46 and was ably complimented by Shane Watson, Ashok Menaria and Brad Hodge. Having won the toss and elected to bat first, Dravid lost his opening partner Ajinkya Rahane (5) in the second over, as he was caught behind off Ryan Harris' second ball.

    Dravid and the powerful Shane Watson then shared a 71-run stand, with Watson scoring 36 off just 17 balls, including two massive sixes. But the legspinner scalped him, as he was caught in the deep by Harris. Dravid then follwed back to the pavilion in the fourteenth over. Dravid hit eight four in his 39-ball innings. He had added 41 with Menaria (34) for the third wicket before he took long walk back. Maneria carried on the tempo with some lusty hits. He was though lucky as he was dropped near the boundary by Mandeep Singh. He was eventually in the 16th over and became Chawla's second victim.

    Brad Hodge then played a cameo of 36 off 23 balls, with a pair of sixes and fours. Johan Botha chipped in with a couple of fours himself, as Rajasthan set a testing target. Harris, however, had the last laugh as he claimed Hodge's wicket in the final over. For Punjab, Ryan Harris and Piyush Chawla picked up two wickets apiece. Praveen Kumar once again remained wicketless and went for 32 runs. Awana gave away 34 runs and Mahmood proved expensive giving away 37 in the four overs he bowled.