Brief score: Lucknow Super Giants 154/7 in 20 overs beat Rajasthan Royals 144/6 in 20 overs by 10 runs.

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It was not the homecoming Rajasthan Royals hoped for as they endured a 10-run loss to Lucknow Super Giants in the Indian Premier League on Wednesday. At the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, the Men in Pink started well and restricted Lucknow to 154/7. But later fell short of the target as batting became incrementally difficult on a slow surface. The loss, however, doesn’t affect the Royals’ position on the points table as they continue to occupy the top spot, thanks to a better Net Run Rate when compared to the Super Giants.

Choosing to bowl first, the Royals’ bowling unit put up a fine show to restrict LSG to a below-par score. While Trent Boult didn’t strike in the Powerplay, he was lethal with the new ball as the Super Giants found it hard to get going. Sandeep Sharma and R Ashwin too kept things tight, cramping the Lucknow batters for any room.

In reply, the Royals began well with Yashasvi Jaiswal (44) and Jos Buttler (40) once again playing the main protagonists. The two put on an 87-run partnership for the opening wicket. But as the match progressed, the total was a bridge too far to cross. 

Boult shows why he’s the best

He’s used to striking early in the Powerplay, and things have been no different this season. But against the Super Giants, Boult’s story was a bit different. Though he didn’t open his account in the first six overs – a wicket eluding him after Jason Holder dropped KL Rahul – the Kiwi pacer put on a clinical performance to restrict Lucknow from scoring freely. 

Boult started off with a maiden and gave away just two in his second before Kyle Mayers eked out a few runs in the third over. Gunning in at a healthy pace, Boult stuck to stumps and extracted enough from the pitch to trouble the batters as runs dried out with the Royals conceding just 37 in the Powerplay.

With Sharma keeping the lid on the scoring, Ashwin also ensured that the Super Giants weren’t handed any freebies. Purple Cap holder Yuzvendra Chahal endured a rather off day, but his spin partner made up for his miss with wickets of both, a dangerous-looking Mayers and Deepak Hooda in the same over, to put the brakes on Lucknow’s innings. Later, Marcus Stoinis and Nicholas Pooran showed resilience with a 45-run partnership, as Lucknow crossed the 150-run mark.

Openers dig deep

Coming into bat amidst a sea of pink, both Jaiswal and Buttler were determined to take the fight to the opponents. And after a quiet opening over from Naveen-ul-Haq, the Royals charged into Yudhvir Singh to score 16 runs in the second. They targeted the medium pacer as he went for 27 in his two overs. While Jaiswal was dropped in the sixth over, Buttler applied himself and played well, including a mammoth 112-metre six off Yudhvir Singh, to keep the scorecard ticking. 

But just when it looked like things were going well for the Royals, Stoinis struck by sending Jaiswal back following a sharp catch by Avesh Khan at short-third. That somewhat derailed the innings as wickets fell in a heap. “You need to play some smart cricket and we did that till the ninth over. Right after Jaiswal got out, it was a matter of getting that one big partnership. They bowled really well, whenever we tried to go hard at them, I think we lost wickets,” skipper Sanju Samson told the broadcasters after the match.

Milestone alert

  • Trent Boult has bowled eight first-over maidens in the IPL, the joint-most with Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
  • Devdutt Padikkal completed 2500 runs in T20s.