SANJU Samson struck the first century of the new Indian Premier League season, but it was not enough for Rajasthan Royals to beat Punjab Kings.
Samson needed five from the final ball, bowled by Arshdeep Singh, to complete the Royals’ chase of 222 in Mumbai.
But Samson was caught at deep extra cover to fall for 119 and give Punjab victory by four runs.
The Kings were lifted to their 221-6 by 91 from KL Rahul, Deepak Hooda’s 64 and 40 by Chris Gayle.
The extraordinary game had echoes of when the Royals chased 224 to beat Punjab – then known as Kings XI Punjab – to set the record for the highest IPL pursuit in Sharjah last September.
On that occasion, Samson made 85 from 42 balls.
Here, he took advantage of being dropped on 12, 35 and overturning being given out lbw on 53 to mark his first match since taking over as captain from Steve Smith with a century.
His innings looked set to make light of a poor Royals fielding display – each of Rahul, Hooda and Gayle were dropped, Rahul on 15 by Ben Stokes and Hooda on 39 by Jos Buttler after a mix-up with his England team-mate.
Stokes’ difficult night continued when he lasted only three deliveries opening the batting before top-edging Mohammed Shami.
Buttler looked in supreme touch for 25 until he was deceived by a superb slower ball from new Punjab singing Jhye Richardson.
Samson, though, displayed awesome power and clean hitting to reach three figures from 54 balls.
He was in the company of Chris Morris – at £1.6m the most expensive signing in IPL history – when 13 were needed from the final over.
Eleven from three became five from two when Samson struck a glorious six over extra cover.
However, when he failed to find the boundary from the next ball, he turned down the single, trusting himself to strike the winning blow.
But 22-year-old left-armer Arshdeep held his nerve and another Samson loft towards extra cover ended in the hands of Deepak Hooda.(BBC Sport)