Brief Scores: Rajasthan Royals 144/8 (20) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 115 all-out (19.3) by 29 runs.

Lose the toss. Bat first. Defend like your life’s on the line. Win the match. It’s a formula that has worked well for the Royals so far in their IPL 2022 campaign. And it continues to do so, with yet another total successfully defended by Sanju & co. This time against an opponent that had drawn first blood against us in the season. Yet again, the Royals were asked to bat first. But it wasn’t the start we would have expected. The top order was dismissed inside the first six overs. Sanju Samson once again came out firing on all cylinders but it ended up being a cameo. The middle order was unable to find the boundaries, and it looked like our innings was inching towards a low-scoring total. But then came Riyan Parag, whose first fifty of the season injected life into the Royals camp and helped them finish with a fighting total on the board. With an average first-innings score of 177 at this venue in the season, one would’ve thought 144 was probably below-par. Trust the Royals to make a match out of everything though. They had the firepower in their bowling attack, and it showed from time to time as they choked their opponent to defeat. Bangalore just couldn’t get their chase going, they weren’t even given a chance to resurrect, with our bowlers striking at regular intervals. The pacers extracted some good bounce off the wicket, with Prasidh Krishna bouncing Virat Kohli off to give the Royals their first breakthrough. Kuldeep Sen, coming back into the side, impressed with his four wickets and almost had a hat-trick. Ravichandran Ashwin spun the perfect web, frustrating the batters and inducing them to make errors. His three-wicket haul complemented Kuldeep well enough for the Royals to register their sixth victory of the season. Here are the top moments from the match: Riyan’s Night Out

He was patient. He was calm. He waited for his opportunity. With his team struggling at 68/4 in the 10th over, his time had finally arrived. Riyan Parag walked out to bat with a determined look on his face, knowing fully well that he had a huge responsibility on his shoulders. Having missed out on scoring opportunities in the earlier matches, the stage was set for him perfectly this time. And boy, did he cash in! From scoring his maiden fifty in just 29 balls to taking four important catches in the second innings, this match had Riyan’s name written all over it. His unbeaten 56, including a four and two sixes in the 20th over, helped the team get to a competitive total. Later, he took a crucial catch to send Virat Kohli packing. The Bangalore opener was reprieved in the first over, and it could have been an expensive one if it wasn’t for that catch. With three more catches as the innings progressed, it turned out to be Riyan’s night in the field as well.

Kuldeep Sen: The Comeback Kid

The Royals brought in Kuldeep Sen as a replacement for Obed McCoy in this game. And what a move it turned out to be. Sen was steaming in on every delivery, and it was only a matter of time before he got rewarded for it. The youngster was introduced immediately after the first Powerplay. On only his second ball of the night, he got rid of Faf du Plessis, who couldn’t believe he had holed out to the cover region. But as they say, one brings two. And with the Royals, they’ll always (more often than not) make it come true. Sen got another wicket on the very next delivery, as Glenn Maxwell edged on to first slip. His double blow left RCB reeling, and they never really recovered from that. In what was a fitting end to the match, Kuldeep came back to take the final wicket, completing a stunning spell of 4/20 in 3.3 overs.

Yuzi & Prasidh: The run-out that (almost) wasn’t!

Perhaps the most bizarre moment of the match came in the 13th over off Yuzvendra Chahal’s bowling. At the striker’s end, Shahbaz Ahmed struck one to the mid-off region for a single, but soon realised Prasidh had already collected the ball. Dinesh Karthik, at the other end, was already halfway down the crease and had to turn back to the non striker’s end. Prasidh threw the ball to Yuzi, but the leggie couldn’t collect it on his first attempt, so he tried again, finally dislodging the bails. For a moment, he thought he had missed an opportunity but the replays confirmed Karthik was caught napping at the crease. There was disappointment at first, but the Royals finally breathed a sigh of relief as soon as Karthik turned his back.

Of teamwork and spirited comebacks - it has been the Royals’ story so far in the season. Time and again, the team has found a way to come back and make a statement. In this match though, they were never out of the game. The two-paced nature of the wicket meant that even 140-odd total wasn’t going to be cakewalk. Add to that, a serious pace attack and an experienced spin duo working their magic. The fielding was top-notch as well, ensuring the pressure on the chasing team kept mounting. Most importantly, it was a night that belonged to the young guns in the group. They had self-belief, they had the support of their team and they made it count. Riyan’s big-hitting, Kuldeep’s pace - the younger Royals have surely stepped up.

With three solid wins in a row, we have now jumped to the top of the points table with 12 points in 8 matches. Our next match is against Mumbai Indians on April 30 at the DY Patil Stadium. 

What did you think of our performance? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter at @rajasthanroyals or with me, @arey_yaar