Fast-forward to two days and the script came a full circle on Tuesday as Ajinkya Rahane and his boys put up a spirited show and defended their total despite Rahul's herculean effort.
The Royals were reliant on Jos Buttler's 51 to set a relatively modest target of 153 that Kings XI steadily chipped away at.
Rahul has been under criticism lately for not converting his solid starts into big scores for the team. RR, on the other hand, are bottom-placed and have just three wins from nine matches.
Rahul is also among the contenders for the "Orange Cap" with 376 runs in 9 matches and is now placed at number 4 in a list which has the likes of MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Shane Watson and AB De Villiers.
The dream start was provided by Krishnappa Gowtham as the off-spinner sent back the risky Chris Gayle with the first ball of the third over.
Buttler feasted, as he usually does, on the back-of-a-length deliveries he got early on, slapping them over the bowler and extra cover at will. Then he beat R. Ashwin in the air, leaving the rival dugout shocked as the captain's move to promote himself as a pinch-hitter misfired.
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Punjab's situation worsened further as Jofra Archer dismissed an in-form Karun Nair (3) to leave the visitors reeling at 17/4. Ajinkya Rahane pulled off a diving catch at cover to send back Manoj Tiwary, with teammates rushing from all parts of the ground to applaud the skipper. Sodhi quickly bowled his three overs in a go and leaked miserly.
Kiwi spinner Ish Sodhi was clinical in his four overs, taking one wicket for 14 runs while adding 12 dot balls.
On a night when his bowling changes in the Powerplay worked well, Ashwin targeted Royals' Achilles heel - their middle-overs batting. This time, they have to do a "Mission Impossible": win all their remaining five games and hope that their net run-rate improves too.
By the end of 18th over, the required rate surged 23.5 an over which was almost impossible. KXIP needed 32 runs in the last over and Rahul's six and two fours were not enough.
"For me, this is the first knock that I would be really satisfied with because I won the game for the team", Rahul said. Left with no choice but to win all their matches, RR definitely need more than just a few miracles to happen.
When these teams last met, only two nights ago, Royals had been sitting on 81 for 2 at the halfway stage, only to finish with 152 at the smallest IPL venue.