Did anyone feel a little déjà vu when Rajasthan Royals went in for the chase? Nobody can blame you for that. Last year, at the Wankhede, Jos Buttler smashed an unbeaten 94 to take the Royals home. And this time around, he lit the stadium up with a blistering 43-ball 89 to take the game away completely from Mumbai Indians. The 20,000+ children at the Wankhede were treated to some audacious batting, that began with Rahane’s grace and continued with sheer power by Buttler. Mumbai Indians had scored a competitive 187 in the first innings, where our bowlers pulled things back in the middle overs and the death to keep them from crossing 200. It was our top order though, who stole the show in the chase. Shreyas Gopal, who bowled extremely well without claiming a wicket, ensured that we didn’t falter in the last few overs of the chase. It was yet another toss that dropped Rajasthan Royals’ way. Ajinkya Rahane decided to chase a target this time around. Krishnappa Gowtham and Dhawal Kulkarni got off to a sedate start with the ball, as they kept MI to 9 runs off the first two overs. However, the tide changed soon after, when Quinton de Kock and Rohit Sharma took the attack to our bowlers. By the end of the Powerplay, MI stacked up 57 runs without losing a wicket. Shreyas Gopal turned out to be the pick of the bowlers once again, as he kept things tight from his end. The fielding was on point by our boys yet again, as they kept hitting the stumps from time to time. The MI openers were wary of taking quick singles against most of our boys. Sharma and de Kock played some very good shots during their partnership, but the stand came to an end when Archer was brought back into the attack. Rohit was done in by a slower-one that he miscued into the hands of Jos Buttler with the scoreboard reading 96 runs. Along with Shreyas Gopal, Jaydev Unadkat played his part in ensuring that MI didn’t run away with the game in the middle overs. Kulkarni, who returned to bowl, picked up Suryakumar Yadav’s wicket with a peach of a delivery that just clipped the off stick. Gopal then bowled an exceptional over to Pollard which comprised of four back-to-back dot balls before Pollard picked up a single. In all, he conceded just 2 runs of the over, finishing the day with 0/21. The struggling Pollard mistimed a quick Archer delivery high up in the air. Gopal kept his composure as he settled right under the ball to pouch it. The death overs saw a mix of wickets and big hits. We managed to dismiss de Kock on 81 when Buttler ran in from long off and pulled off a screamer, low down in front of him. Unadkat conceded 16 runs off the final over, but claimed Ishan Kishan’s wicket with Buttler completing a hat-trick of catches for the day. MI finished on 187 with a flourish from Hardik Pandya. The Wankhee is a small ground and chasing a steep total isn’t out of question here. The Royals went into the innings break feeling confident of reaching the target. When the MI openers were going berserk, it seemed like they could cross 200. The chase began on a quiet note, as Rahane and Buttler saw off the first two overs with 8 runs on the board. Rahane freed his arms soon enough to give the run-rate a brilliant boost. The third over of the innings yielded 16 runs courtesy a boundary by Buttler and Rahane to go with a majestic six by the former. Rahane punished Alzari Joseph in the fifth over carting him for 17 runs. He smashed two boundaries and an elegant six over mid-wicket that got jaws dropping around the ground that was filled with over 20,000 children. Rajasthan Royals notched up 59 runs in the Powerplay, with all wickets intact. Our captain looked to take the attack to Krunal Pandya early, but swept one aerially to Suryakumar Yadav in the deep. Sanju Samson joined Jos Buttler, and the Englishmen carried on from where Rahane left. He punished Krunal Pandya for two supreme sixes in the ninth over. The 10th over, by Behrendorff saw one boundary each off Samson and Buttler’s blade. Jos brought up his third half-century of the season at the end of the tenth over, with our score reading exactly 100. With a run-rate of 10 runs per over, the Royals were on track in the chase. Buttler continued being severe against the spinners. He used his feet to damaging effect, when he danced down the track to Chahar and launched the ball into the second tier over wide long on. Sanju soon got into the act in the same over as he lofted the ball gracefully over the cover fence. Jos the Boss was in a hurry to get the Royals home. MI got Joseph back on to bowl in the 13th over. Buttler showed no mercy whatsoever against the young West Indian. He smashed him for 28 runs in the over. This is how it read – 6, 4, 4, 4, 4, 6 – that left all of us speechless. With the kind of form Buttler was in, he didn’t want to stop going after the bowling. He went after a flighted ball from Chahar but couldn’t send it sailing off the middle. The ball dropped at long off and Buttler was caught. An unbelievably outstanding innings came to an end! In the last six overs, Rajasthan Royals needed just 35 runs. Smith and Samson didn’t rush and ensured that MI couldn’t penetrate any further. The dup picked up a cheeky boundary each off Krunal in the 16th over. Against the run of play, Samson was caught in front of middle and leg, but he went for the review with 18 runs needed off 20 balls. The ball would’ve clipped leg stump, and Samson had to walk back. Rahul Tripathi strode out to the crease and got off the mark on the first ball. His stay didn’t extend beyond that run, as he looked to smash Krunal Pandya over mid-wicket, but couldn’t clear the fence. He found Hardik Pandya instead. The debutant Liam Livingstone walked out to replace him. Mumbai Indians seemed to be crawling back into the contest, as Krunal got Livingstone’s wicket on the last ball of the 18th over. Jasprit Bumrah set the cat among the pigeons as he got Smith to edge one through to the keeper. The situation had got quite tense with 14 runs needed off 11 balls. Gowtham survived an LBW shout off Bumrah’s bowling. MI took the review, but the ball wasn’t hitting the stumps. The next delivery was a smart drive by Gopal through extra cover. Joseph dived after giving a good chase, and kept SG and KG down to two runs. Gopal was beaten on the following delivery, but edged the next one fine to the third man fence. He survived a diving effort by de Kock after edging one, picking up a single off the final ball of the penultimate over. Final over – 6 runs off 6 balls Gopal sent the ball high up in the air, straight down the ground. The fielder ran backwards from mid-off, but couldn’t catch the ball. Gopal collected two runs. 4 required off 5 It took just one ball and one shot after that for Gopal to apply his cricket sense. Watching mid off and cover in the ring. He backed away and lofted the ball right through this gap and found the boundary taking us home in style. It was a much-needed win for Rajasthan Royals! It took some good work on the field by our bowlers and fielders, and that was followed by some scintillating batting by Jos Buttler and Ajinkya Rahane. Eventually, just when we went through a mini-collapse, Shreyas Gopal’s calm head came handy for us, as he took us home. We have collected out second win of the season, and this could be the turning point of the season for us. Let’s take this momentum to Mohali when we meet Kings XI Punjab on Tuesday, 16th April. Halla Bol!
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