Some fiercely competitive cricket has kept all of us entertained over the past couple of weeks. Many Royals have been responsible for taking their teams to winning positions, finishing the match in style and pulling off some rescuing acts as well. The group stage of the Ranji Trophy concluded a few days ago, while England and South Africa fought hard in the ODI and the T20I series. Here are the top knocks and spells by the Rajasthan Royals boys.
Jos Buttler: 57 (29) vs South Africa
In the final and deciding T20I against the Proteas, Jos Buttler got back to form by giving England the perfect start. Chasing 223, it was vital for them to fire on all cylinders from the word go. Jos wasted no time as he carted the South African attack all around the park with 9 fours and 2 sixes. His power-hitting got England past 100 within 10 overs and set the tone for the middle-order to finish the chase successfully.
Jaydev Unadkat: 6/73 vs Tamil Nadu
Unadkat’s appetite for wickets this year has been right up there with the best. After reaching the elite landmark of 300 Ranji Trophy wickets with two consecutive 6-fers, JD wasn’t done. Tamil Nadu seemed to be coasting and set themselves up for a 500+ total on a flat Rajkot deck. He got the key wicket of centurion, Jagadeesan and then wiped out the tail to bowl them out for 424. Unadkat secured a hat-trick of six-wicket hauls and is warmed up well for the quarter-finals.
Tom Curran: 2 wickets in the final over vs South Africa
A cricket ground may not seem the ideal location to spend Valentine’s Day. However, if you win the game for your team from a near-impossible situation, then why not? Tom Curran, like most other bowlers on the day had a tough outing with runs flowing to all parts at Durban. The Proteas were chasing 205 and the match went right down to the wire. With 15 needed off the final over, Curran was handed the responsibility to defend the target. He ended up conceding 12 off his first four deliveries, with the Proteas needing just 3 off 2.
Pretorius, who was on strike, received an accurate yorker from Curran that trapped him in front, keeping it to 3 off the final ball. The thought of a Super Over flashed in almost everyone’s mind. However, it wasn’t to be. Curran bowled a back-of-the-hand slower one that Fortuin could only slap to Rashid. England kept the series alive after nearly being written off, and Tom Curran was at the centre of all the action.
Ben Stokes: 47 (30) vs South Africa
Stokesy has built a reputation as a finisher over the last year or so. Batting at no. 5, he walked in with England three down for 90 in the tenth over. He took his time before opening his shoulders and bringing out the big hits. Stokes and Moeen Ali took the attack to the Proteas at the death and the surge took England beyond 200. Stokes smashed 4 fours and 2 sixes as he ended unbeaten on 47.
Rahul Tewatia: 7/98 & 27* vs J&K
Tewatia had to wait a bit before he got his only Ranji Trophy game of the season. And boy, didn’t he make it count with both bat and ball! The Jammu and Kashmir batsmen had laid a solid foundation for a huge first innings total. Once the set batsmen at the top got out, Tewatia swooped in with his wily leggies. He had taken one wicket right at the start, but he got back to claim the last six wickets. He finished with career-best innings figures of 7/98 and match figures of 9/157.
Haryana were set a target of 227 runs and almost the entire batting line-up wobbled as J&K pressed for victory. Tewatia came to the crease at 183/8 with the team needing 44 more runs. He kept his composure and picked up valuable runs and went solely after loose balls. He finished unbeaten on 27 with 3 fours and a six to take Haryana home.
Mahipal Lomror: 118 vs Delhi
Mahipal has had a good Ranji Trophy season, amassing 543 runs and scoring 4 fifties and a hundred to sign off. Following on against Delhi, Rajasthan needed someone to step up and play saviour. Lomror rose to the occasion and fought hard to keep the new ball at bay. He consolidated once the ball softened and played some sublime strokes on his way to his maiden century of this season. Rajasthan managed to keep Delhi at bay and secured a draw.
David Miller: 35* (20) vs England
Slowly and surely, David Miller has gotten back to piping hot form. He scored a half-century in the ODI series and has been constantly helping the Proteas finish their innings in the T20 format. In the final T20I, Miller ensured that a strong start didn’t go to waste. He played second-fiddle to former Rajasthan Royals batsman, Heinrich Klaasen, who took the bowlers apart. Once Klaasen was out, Miller took over and punished reckless balls with ease. He finished on 35 off 20, with 3 fours and 2 sixes, helping South Africa to 222.
Ankit Rajpoot: 3/57 vs Himachal Pradesh\\
Ankit has donned a few hats this season for Uttar Pradesh – captain, lead bowler and night-watchman too at times. While he hasn’t found success with the last one, he has impressed with the first two. Rajpoot was instrumental in keeping Himachal to a paltry total of just 220. He got one of the openers trapped in the first over of the match, and then returned to claim two middle-order wickets as well. His team may not have made it to the knockouts, but the seamer has led UP by example.
Our Royals will be preparing for some more tough cricket in the days to come. Jaydev Unadkat and Shreyas Gopal will look to make their bowling count in the Ranji quarters, while South Africa prepare to take on the touring Aussies in a T20I series. The English Royals will be on a high as they begin
groundwork for their tour to Sri Lanka. The Rajasthan Royals boys are warming up well for the 2020 season and form seems to be on their side as well.