IPL 2024: Sanju Samson, Dhruv Jurel lead RR to brink of playoffs | Cricket

If IPL 2024 is an audition for India's T20 World Cup squad, Rajasthan Royals skipper Sanju Samson seems to tick all the boxes – be it batting, wicketkeeping or leading a team that is way ahead of the rest in the rankings and on the verge of a place in the IPL playoffs.

Sanju Samson and Dhruv Jurel of Rajasthan Royals celebrate the team's victory against Lucknow Super Giants (ANI)

Saturday was no different for Samson. He initially rotated his bowlers well to restrict the hosts Lucknow Super Giants at 196/5 after choosing to bowl. He then led from the front, top-scoring with an unbeaten 71, his fourth half-century of the IPL season and third in a winning cause.

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Samson (71* – 33b, 7×4, 4×6) lifted an unbroken 121-run stand with Dhruv Jurel (52* – 34b, 5×4, 2×6) to take RR to 199/3 in 19 overs, clinching an easy seven-wicket win. Eight wins in nine games almost got the Royals into the playoffs.

The RR skipper came in at 60/1 in 5.5 overs and produced a match-winning knock on a slow pitch at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium on Saturday. He and new India Test stunner Jurel kept the scoreboard in a 62-ball fourth-wicket partnership.

Earlier, LSG skipper KL Rahul joined an elite club by tallying 4,000 runs in the IPL, scoring his third fifty of the season. His 76 from 48 balls (8×4, 2×6) made him the fastest opener on the monument. He only needed 94 innings to get there in the opening game.

Despite quick dismissals of Quinton de Kock (8) and Marcus Stonis (0) in the first two overs, Rahul continued to lead the scoring, having made 82 against CSK at home last week. His third wicket stand of 115 runs with Deepak Hooda (50 – 31b, 7×4) saved LSG from early crisis. Hooda, who had a fine debut season with LSG in 2022, came into his own for the first time this season, scoring his eighth IPL half-century.

However, Nicholas Pooran (11), Ayush Badoni (18*) and Krunal Pandya (15*) could only add 46 runs in the last five overs.

Brief scores: LSG 196/5 (KL Rahul 76, D Hooda 50, Sandeep Sharma 2/31) lost to RR 199/3 in 19 overs (S Samson 71*, D Jurel 52*) by 7 wickets

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