Two teams with batters who love scoring big are bound to have tussles featuring big targets. The encounters between the Punjab Kings and Rajasthan Royals over the last two years have proven this with high-profile run chases and nail-biting finishes.

When the two take the field on Saturday afternoon, they have a history of thrillers to live up to. Join us as we travel through the ups, downs and edge-of-the-seat moments of their encounters from the last two years.

When the tides turned violently - RR won by 4 wickets

It all began when PBKS, then Kings XI Punjab, and RR faced off at Sharjah in their third encounter in IPL 2020. The Punjab Kings walked out to bat first after RR won the toss, with openers KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal attacking right away. The duo sent down 17 fours and eight sixes together in a 183-run opening partnership. Then
Glenn Maxwell and Nicholas Pooran helped PBKS finish at 223/2.

For the Royals, it was Steven Smith and Sanju Samson that did the trick with an 81-run partnership to take RR to 100/2 in just nine overs, when Jimmy Neesham struck to send back Smith at 50 (27). Batting with Rahul Tewatia, who scored five runs off 13 initially, Samson strung together a 61-run stand before Mohammed Shami sent him back at 85 (42).

Tewatia, playing a potentially match-losing knock until then, ensured that the team chased down 63 runs in the last five overs, even as wickets kept tumbling at the other end. The sensational 18th over saw Tewatia smash five sixes, scoring 30 runs, and Jofra Archer following it up with a few maximums as well.

Mohammed Shami dismissed them both in the 19th over, giving the Kings hope. However, RR needed only one run off the last over, which inevitably came to them after a dot and a wicket from Ashwin, to win the see-sawing game by four wickets, scoring 226/6.

Another show with the bat - RR won by seven wickets

The next match between the two teams, at Abu Dhabi in 2020 was also a high-scoring affair. Once more, RR won the toss and put the Kings in to bat first. KL Rahul was with a different opener, Mandeep Singh, who was sent away for a golden duck by Jofra Archer. Rahul then built a 120-run partnership with Chris Gayle, who clobbered six fours and eight sixes en route his 99 (63).

Nicholas Pooran came in next and his 22 (10) took the team to a total of 185/4. RR openers Robin Uthappa and Ben Stokes took their team to 60 within the powerplay before Stokes departed with a 50 (26).

Uthappa (30 off 23) and Sanju Samson (48 off 25) then shared a 51-run stand, which took the team further to 111 in under 11 overs. From there on, Steve Smith (31* off 20) and Jos Buttler (22* off 11), were faultless and sealed the game by seven wickets, finishing 186/3.

A heart-stopping affair - PBKS won by four runs

A few months after the Dubai debacle, the teams met at the Wankhede Stadium. Yet again, the Punjab Kings were put in to bat after RR won the toss. Despite losing Mayank Agarwal early, KL Rahul and Chris Gayle ensured converted deliveries into boundaries at will. Rahul put up a majestic 91 (50) and his partner a 40 (28).

After Gayle fell, Deepak Hooda smashed a 28 ball 64 in a 105-run partnership with Rahul as the Kings put up a staggering 221/6 in 20 overs. The Punjab Kings started off the defence well, taking out both RR openers for under 25 runs in just four overs. However, Sanju Samson’s arrival ignited worries in the PBKS camp.

Samson showed no mercy to bowlers, smashing 12 fours and seven sixes at one end, but wickets kept falling at regular intervals on the other. While he blazed his way to 119 (63), Buttler (25 off 13), Shivam Dube (23 off 15), Riyan Parag (25 off 11) and Rahul Tewatia failed to stay with him.

In the final over, Arshdeep Singh had 13 runs to defend. He started off exceptionally well, giving away just two runs in his first three deliveries. The fourth delivery, however, saw Samson hit a massive six to bring it to five off two. The next was a dot as Sanju decided not to take a single. Super Over? No thanks, said Arshdeep as he had Samson holing out in the deep, managing those rarest of things – a successful defense in dewy conditions at the Wankhede as PBKS won by four runs.

A close miss - RR won by two runs

Finally, the Punjab Kings won the toss and sent in RR to bat first. Evin Lewis and Yashaswi Jaiswal gave the Men in Pink a good start, taking them to 54 before Arshdeep got Lewis. Sanju Samson was not allowed to repeat any heroics with Ishan Porel sending him back for 4 (5).

While Liam Livingstone’s 25 off 17 kept the scorecard ticking, it was Mahipal Lomror who inflicted maximum damage, scoring 43 off 17 deliveries. Despite the rest of the batting line-up being dismissed for single digits, mainly by Arshdeep’s 5/32 and Shami’s 3/21, Rajasthan did well to put up 185/10 on the scoreboard.

The Punjab Kings started extremely well, riding on a 120-run partnership between KL Rahul (49 off 33) and Mayank Agarwal (67 off 43) before Aiden Markram and Nicholas Pooran took charge to manoeuvre the team to needing four off the last over.

Kartik Tyagi was the man with the ball. He started with a dot. Then Markram took a single, but Pooran fell off the very next delivery, the equation now down to three needed off three. Deepak Hooda, the new batter, faced a dot, and with the pressure now squarely on him, succumbed to the very next ball. New batter Fabian Allan could not connect with Tyagi’s last-ball wide yorker, allowing RR to grab a two-run victory.

Four games, all high-scoring thrillers and absolute entertainers. The Punjab Kings take on the Rajasthan Royals in yet another big clash. Will the trend continue? We sure hope so.