This past week has proved to be an extraordinary advertisement for cricket. While a keenly contested test series between India and England was decided at the Rose Bowl in favour of the hosts, after yet another close encounter, the Caribbean Premier League and the Karnataka Premier League provided plenty of nail-biters to exhibit the best of T20 cricket.
There was also action galore at the Asia Cup qualifiers which had kicked-off at UAE, and in England where the Vitality Blast and the County Championship continued. As usual, we had a close eye on all our Royals players, and unsurprisingly many of them showed their mettle across various competitions over the past one week.
Ben Stokes Performs with the Bat and Ball
Ben Stokes has had quite an up and down season so far. Although, he had some excellent bowling and batting performances so far, he has not had a test match where he delivered with both. However, this was to change in the big 4th test match of the series against India at the Rose Bowl. He chipped in with both bat and ball. In a low scoring test match, Ben proved his batting mettle by curbing his natural game to grind out 23 off 79 balls in the first innings and 30 off 110 balls in the second. Although, these numbers aren’t big, yet these crucial runs were vital for England as the test match ended with a narrow win for England.
With the ball too, Stokesy accounted for the prized wicket of Ajinkya Rahane in the first innings, by getting him plumb in front of the wicket. Whereas, in the second innings, he was instrumental in making short work of the Indian lower-order by dismissing the dangerous Hardik Pandya and tail-ender Ishant Sharma cheaply.
Buttler to the Rescue
England may have closed out the series before the final test match against India, but the story could have been different had Jos Buttler not showed his batting pedigree in both the innings and got his team out of trouble. While in the first innings, Jos contributed with a fluent 21 off 24 balls, in the second he played an innings which arguably decided the match. His patient 69 off 122 balls, was worth its weight in gold as it was his partnerships with Ben Stokes and Sam Curran which helped the hosts post a score of 271 in the second innings propelling them to set a competitive target, which the Indians failed to chase down.
Valiant in Defeat
Royals’ captain put up a valiant effort in a bid to chase down a target of 244 against England. Batting in the fourth innings is never easy, and it becomes doubly difficult if the opposition has a quality bowling line up like England. Chasing the target the Indian openers and 1st innings centurion Cheteshwar Pujara were quickly dismissed, and it was down to the captain-vice-captain duo of Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane. Both these men put a valiant effort and rekindled the hopes of Indian fans. Rahane’s 51 (159) may not have won India the match, but it once again showed his mental toughness and how technically sound he is. It also proved how valuable he is when India plays away from home.
Stuart Binny Leads from the Front
Stuart Binny produced a fine all-round performance against the Shivamogga Lions to lead the Belgavi Panthers to a convincing win at the Karnataka Premier League. With the ball, he cut short the innings of the experienced Abhimanyu Mithun, who was playing a flier, scoring 23 off just 11 balls. He later also got rid of Aditya Somanna off the very first ball, with a beauty and finished with impressive figures of 2/30. With the bat too, he played a captain’s knock scoring a quick-fire 32 off 17 balls, after coming into bat at the fall of the second wicket with 63 runs on the board, making the win a very comfortable one.
Jaydev Unadkat and Prashant Chopra Make an Impression in Duleep Trophy
Our boys, Jaydev Unadkat and Prashant Chopra, put in stellar performances for their respective teams. Unadkat, representing India Blue, bowled a miserly spell in which he took 4 wickets while conceding just 16 runs. Such was his impact that he removed opener Priyank Panchal and number three batsman Sudip Chatterjee without allowing them to open their accounts. He also came back to get rid of lower order batsmen Krishnamoorthy Vignesh and Vikas Mishra.
While all the other India Green batsmen were struggling to cope with the India Blue’s bowling prowess of Jaydev Unadkat and Basil Thampi, Royals protégé and India Green opener Prashant Chopra weathered the storm to score a vital 80 off 194 balls. His innings kept his team in the game. Royals fans would be hoping to see both these boys continue their form and play a key role in the next season of the IPL.