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Despite qualifying for playoffs, Rajasthan Royals (RR) continued a downward spiral in momentum as a fine bowling performance by Punjab Kings (PBKS) and a fighting half-century by skipper Sam Curran handed them a five-wicket loss at Guwahati on Wednesday in their Indian Premier League (IPL) match.

RR have lost their fourth match in a row and are second with eight wins and five losses, giving them 16 points. PBKS is in ninth spot with five wins, eight losses and 10 points.

In the run-chase of 145 runs, Punjab Kings had a poor start as they lost Prabhsimran Singh for just six runs in four balls, with a top edge of his bat landing into the hands of Yuzvendra Chahal at short third man. Trent Boult got his first wicket. PBKS was 6/1 in 0.4 overs.

Riley Rossouw came to the crease and along with Jonny Bairstow, unleashed a brief attack on pacers. Rossouw smashed Boult for three fours in the third over and in the next over, Sandeep was hit for two boundaries by South Africa.

However, Rossouw sliced a delivery by Avesh Khan straight into the hands of Yashasvi Jaiswal at backward point, dismissed for 22 in 13 balls, with five fours. PBKS was 36/2 in 4.3 overs.

Two balls later, Avesh Khan trapped Shashank Singh’s leg-before-wicket for a duck. PBKS was 36/3 in 4.5 overs.

PBKS had a very disappointing powerplay, ending their six overs at 39/3, with Jonny Bairstow (9*) and Sam Curran (2*) unbeaten.

Chahal got his first wicket, removing a struggling Bairstow for just 14 in 22 balls, consisting of a four. PBKS was 48/4 in eight overs.

Skipper Sam Curran and Jitesh Sharma joined forces and built the innings run-by-run following these early wickets.

Halfway through the innings, PBKS was 63/4, with Jitesh (8*) and Curran (13*) unbeaten.

Punjab reached the 100-run mark in 14.4 overs thanks to a six from Curran.

At the end of 15 overs, PBKS was 103/4, with Jitesh (22*) and Curran (39*) unbeaten.

The 63-run partnership between the duo was over when a lofted shot from Jitesh landed into the hands of Riyan, giving Chahal his second wicket. Jitesh was gone for 22 in 20 balls, with two fours. PBKS was 111/5 in 15.4 overs.

Curran continued his fightback, reaching his second fifty in the tournament in 38 balls, with five fours and a six.

ScorescColor:> Rajasthan Royals 144/9 (Riyan Parag 48, Ravichandran Ashwin 28, Sanju Samson 18; Sam Curran 2/24) lost to Punjab Kings 145/5 (Sam Curran 63*, Rilee Rossouw 22, Avesh Khan 2/26).

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