Rajasthan Royals got their Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign off to a bright start beating Kings XI Punjab by 26 runs in a preliminary round match at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Friday.
Chasing 163 runs to win, Punjab's reply never really got going and they only managed to reach 136/8 in their 20 overs.
Australia's World Cup hero James Faulkner was Royals' star man was well with his innings-pacing knock of 46 runs and then taking 3/26 with the ball.
And their problems compounded further with the quick dismissals of Wriddhiman Saha (7) the dangerous (7).
India test opener Murali Vijay (37) was shaping up nicely to guide the team's run chase but his run out in the nonth over severely dampened their chances from which they simply didn't recover.
Earlier, Rajasthan Royals posted 162/7 against Kings XI Punjab in their 20 overs
Faulkner (46) was the principal run scorer for the Royals while pacer Anureet Singh 3/23 was the pick of the Punjab bowlers.
Punjab captain Australian George Bailey won the toss and invited Royals to bat.
His judgement was justified by his team's bowlers as they struck as early as in the second over when pacer Anureet dismissed India batsman Ajinkya Rahane for zero.
Royals were unable to get over the early jolt and kept losing wicket at regular intervals. Skipper Australian Steven Smith (33) put up some resistance but his compatriot pacer Mitchell Johnson struck twice in the 11th over to seize the initiative and reduce Royals to 75/5 in 10.4 overs.
But the 51-run sixth-wicket partnership of Deepak Hooda (30) and Faulkner resurrected their innings and helped them post a decent total.
A minute's silence and black armbands were worn by the players, match officials and the commentators to pay tribute to the death of the legendary former Australia captain and cricket broadcaster Richie Benaud prior to the start of the match.
George Bailey during post-match presentation: "Pretty happy (on the team's performance). I thought 160 was about par. If we had taken a couple of opportunities, we should have restricted them before. That's the nature of this game, a couple of run-outs and we changed the batting order as well, but it didn't pay off. We thought that David (Miller) and I will come later and finish it off, but it was an error in judgement. Smith was really good and Faulkner was brilliant in the end. Hopefully, we can learn from our mistakes. Obviously, it was a great year for us last year but I am sick of talking about it. It's time for us to move on and concentrate on this year's competition."
Steven Smith during post-match presentation: "They were very good. We didn't get off to the best of starts, but we got around in the end. Hooda was good in his first match and Faulkner was great too. He is a little man, but he did brilliantly behind the stumps. I like playing here. I am sure we will be fine, we will look at the combinations and decide accordingly for each game."
Man of the Match: James Faulkner sweeps the MoM award for his contribution of 46 runs with the bat and another three wickets with the ball for Rajasthan Royals.
James Faulkner during post-match presentation: "It's great to be back here playing for Rajasthan. It's a great start but there's a long way to go. I just like playing this format. The younger players stepped up really well tonight, especially Hooda, who showed his confidence with the bat. I got a little bit lucky, but it was good (on winning his battle with Johnson)."