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Royals rely on Rahane

Rajasthan off the mark with comfortable victory in opener

Ajinkya Rahane: Finished two short of century

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Ajinkya Rahane hammered 98 from just 66 balls to lead Rajasthan Royals to a 31-run victory over Indian Premier League rivals King's XI Punjab.

Rahane hit 16 fours and a six as he dominated crucial partnerships of 77 with captain Rahul Dravid (28) for the first wicket and 75 with Australian Brad Hodge (21) for the third.

He struck three consecutive fours off seam bowler Praveen Kumar and again off leg-spinner Piyush Chawla during his innings before being bowled in the last over of the innings by Australian left-arm pace bowler James Faulkner, who led the bowlers with 2-41.

Punjab showed early flourish in its reply through captain Adam Gilchrist, who scored 27 off 18 balls, but West Indian allrounder Kevon Cooper bagged 4-26 to end their hopes.

Mandeep Singh top-scored in the reply with 34 as they were limited to 160-9 from their 20 overs.