Smith won the toss and it was a no-brainer for the Rajasthan Royals skipper to bowl first. We have won two games chasing targets at Sharjah and Smudge backed the team to do so yet again. There were two new names in the playing XI, as Varun Aaron & Andrew Tye replaced Ankit Rajpoot & Tom Curran. Tye got his cap from Archer before the toss.
There was no shortage of pace in the Powerplay, with the likes of Archer, Aaron & Tyagi steaming in. Archer was the most successful of the two bowlers, claiming two crucial wickets. Dhawan was his first victim, as he flicked the ball straight to Jaiswal at mid-wicket. Prithvi Shaw was struggling against Aaron & Archer’s short balls and eventually perished when he top-edged Archer towards mid-wicket. The Englishman called early for the catch, ran towards mid-wicket and got his bucket-like hands under the ball to complete it.
The third wicket fell just when the Powerplay was about to end, some Yashasvi brilliance accounted for Shreyas Iyer’s run-out. He punched the ball to the covers and set off for a single. Yashasvi dived & got up quickly, finding the stumps with a quick throw and finding the Capitals skipper well short. DC were 51/3 at the end of what turned out to be a successful Powerplay for Rajasthan Royals.
The next wicket came via a run-out too. Stoinis bunted the ball towards mid-wicket, where Manan Vohra did a fine job of preventing the ball from going to long on. Pant, though, was half-way down the track and couldn’t make it as Vohra threw the ball to Tewatia, who whipped the bails off. Talk about the small Sharjah ground was suddenly silenced, as wickets kept tumbling for the Capitals.
Marcus Stoinis hit a few boundaries to get the team beyond 100, with Shimron Hetmyer accompanying him. The in-form Aussie lost his wicket through a very soft dismissal. He tried to cut a shortish delivery from Tewatia but played the ball straight into Smith’s hands at cover. That had half of DC’s side back in the Pavilion.
Shimron Hetmyer put up a lone fight, as he found some form by hitting a few into the stands & beyond. He helped DC get one run shy of 150, before miscuing one to Tewatia at long on, giving Tyagi his only wicket of the evening. Tye conceded an expensive 19th over that got the Capitals score beyond 180. He finished his spell by taking the wicket of Axar Patel. Archer finished off with a masterful final over, giving away just 3 runs and picking his third wicket of the day. He finished with figures of 3/24.
The Royals’ pursuit of 184 started with Buttler scoring back-to-back boundaries in the first over. The whole cricketing world seemed to excited to watch Ashwin vs Buttler. The battle didn’t last long, as the bowler got the better of Buttler, who dragged the ball to Dhawan at square leg. Smith joined Jaiswal and got going with a six and a four off Rabada to end the fourth over. Jaiswal added one more six in the Powerplay, as the score read 41/1 at the end of the phase.
The Royals got into some trouble during the middle overs. It started with Smith’s departure. He flicked a length delivery to Hetmyer in the deep and walked back on 24. Samson didn’t last long, as he lofted one straight up for Hetmyer to grab at long on. Ashwin sent Lomror back with some flight & guile resulting in a leading edge to Iyer at cover. It turned from bad to worse, as Jaiswal got bowed off Stoinis, getting out on a sluggish 34 off 36 balls.
All of a sudden, the Royals’ score read 82/5 in the 13th over. Tewatia was joined by Andrew Tye at the crease with a little over 100 required to win the game. Tye didn’t waste much time as he got going with a clean hit down the ground for six. He too, lost his wicket soon, finding a diving Rabada in the deep as he looked to smash Axar into the stands. Archer couldn’t get his hitting magic into play either, as he holed out for just 2 runs.
Tewatia showed a lot of fight during his stay in the centre. He picked Nortje off for a six and a four in the 17th over, but the asking rate rose over 20 for the final 3 overs. He continued to hold his end up, but we weren’t getting anywhere close to the target. We got bowled out for 138 in the final over, losing the game by 46 runs.
Four losses in a row is never good for any team. Rajasthan Royals have fought back from such situations in the past, in 2018 & 2019 more recently. There’s a lot to reflect on and the players are professionals and know how to deal with tough situations too. We play a game very soon, this Sunday afternoon against Sunrisers Hyderabad. The good news for the camp is that Ben Stokes will be out of quarantine tomorrow. Let’s re-group and re-ignite the fire come Sunday.