(IPL) In yet another last-over thriller in VIVO IPL 2018, the Rajasthan Royals defeated the Mumbai Indians by three wickets at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium last night. The platform for the chase of 168 was set by a partnership between Sanju Samson and Ben Stokes, after which K Gowtham polished off the chase with a cameo – the all-rounder striking a massive hit over midwicket to take his team home with 2 balls to spare.
Earlier in the evening, MI opted to bat first and posted a competitive 167-7 riding on the back of half-centuries from Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan. MI lost the opener Evin Lewis to the fourth ball of the match, but Yadav and Kishan snatched the initiative back and put their team on firm footing with a 129-run partnership. But after both the set batsmen were dismissed within five runs of each other and in the space of six balls, RR pulled things back in spectacular fashion. Ajinkya Rahane threw the stumps at the non-striker’s end with a sensational left-handed effort to catch his opposite number Rohit Sharma short of the crease, and Jofra Archer picked up three wickets in one over to deny the visitors any momentum towards the end. MI, 43-1 in the powerplay, added 92-1 in the middle overs, but could only add 32 runs (for the loss of 5 wickets) in the back end.
Sanju Samson was impressive yet again – this time scoring 52 from 39 balls – which earned him back the Orange Cap. As with any of his big innings, there were several delightful strokes, but in this particular knock, Samson’s application stood out – until he actually gave his wicket away at a crucial juncture. The young lad from Kerala appeared to be unmindful of the fast-climbing required rate, kept his head down a
and ran plenty of singles and twos, until he attempted one unnecessary big hit which resulted in his dismissal.
But the man who stole the thunder from Samson’s half-century was K Gowtham, who completed the job for the Royals. When Gowtham walked out to bat, RR had lost three wickets in the space of five deliveries. But the Karnataka lad backed himself to complete the job for his team, even when it had all turned pear shaped in a short span of time; he batted aggressively, went hard at the ball and came up triumphant. He generally bludgeoned the ball and collected four boundaries (including one off the outside edge) and two sixes (including the winning hit), and remained unbeaten on 33, made from just the 11 balls. In the evening, MI were 17-1 after four overs. The first signs of aggression from the MI batsmen came when Ishan Kishan charged down the ground and hit the experienced Dhawal Kulkarni over long-on. Two balls later, Suryakumar Yadav walked across to the off-side and sent the ball sailing into the stands at square-leg.
The carnage had begun. Runs continued to flow thick and fast – from both ends too. The leg-side was the preferred choice for both batsmen; while Kishan scored 72% of his runs on the leg-side, Yadav scored 74% of his runs through that side of the pitch. If Kishan was all muscle, standing tall and punishing the bowlers off length, Yadav’s innings was a mixture of some outstanding wristwork and brute power. The pair had added 129 runs in 13.4 overs, before both batsmen were dismissed in the short space of each other. Kishan, who made 58 from 42 balls, was dismissed in the 15th over, while Yadav was dismissed six balls later for a career-best 72 (made from 47 balls).
Ben Stokes contributed a useful 40, made from 27 ball. It was the partnership between Stokes and Samson – which was worth 72 – that kept RR in the chase after they had lost the two wickets early on. The English all-rounder was dismissed in the fifteenth over when his leg pole was uprooted by an inch-perfect yorker dished out by Hardik Pandya.
Jofra Archer made an instant impression in his first appearance in the IPL. The Barbados-born all-rounder executed change of pace brilliantly; he tested batsmen with speeds in the late 140s regularly, but was also able to get the ball down to speeds under 120. The 23-year old also delivered his yorkers at good pace, and had a memorable debut, returning figures of 4-0-22-3. Jasprit Bumrah’s third over – the 17th over of Rajasthan Royals’ run-chase – was just top-notch stuff. RR were 124-3, needing a further 44 from 24 balls. Bumrah conceded a single first ball, deceived a well-set Sanju Samson and had him caught in the outfield, followed it up with a smearing delivery that breached through the defences of Jos Buttler, and closed out the over with three dot balls. Despite a poor last over, in which he bowled a no ball and conceded a total of 18 runs – the most expensive over of the Rajasthan Royals innings – the MI pacer still finished with respectable figures of 4-0-28-2.