Having seen 3 weeks of World Cup action, the competition has intensified as teams begin to come into their own in the competition. Rajasthan Royals’ players continue to be instrumental figures for their respective national sides on the game’s biggest stage. Beyond the World Cup, our Royals have also made a mark at other levels of the game. Steve Smith: 73 (103) vs West Indies In what was an eagerly awaited clash between two pure cricketing nations, the West Indies bowling looked the part as they cleaned out the top order batting of Australia with some serious short pitched bowling. Australia were reeling at 79-5 with just 20 overs played. Smith remained unfazed and survived the meltdown to put in a crucial innings. Australia required somebody to stand firm and Smith duly obliged. He had a keen eye on the ball throughout and a heightened ability see the ball out of the bowler’s hand. His decision making on how to play a given ball and execute his shot accordingly seemed to happen in absolute synchrony. In a game in which pace got the better of his colleagues, he seemed to have an extra second to settle himself at the crease. Smith was not hasty or drawn into a rash shot at any point. He toiled along and was happy to put in a block for even good balls and laid his focus on getting singles. His technique was brilliant and his temperament a notch better. Smith stuck to a risk-free approach compared to his teammates — and it paid dividends as he contributed 73 off 103 balls during a very testing period. When all else fails, any side with Smith in their ranks can expect a revival even on the brink of a total collapse as Australia posted a competitive target of 289. Oshane Thomas: 2/63 vs Australia Royals pace machine Oshane Thomas was handed the new ball against a strong Australian batting top order and boy, did he deliver! Oshane was a crucial part of a bigger plan to pepper the Australians with some dangerously fast short pitched bowling, which led them to be struggling at 38-4. Oshane started the downfall with some pacey bowling at over 150 kms/hr, leading to the wicket of Australian captain Aaron Finch. Oshane came back to pick up his Royals’ skipper, Steve Smith, who had scored a brilliant 73 to steady the Australian innings after the initial collapse. He ended his day with 2-63 in his 10 overs. He’ll be hoping to repeat his fast-paced bowling against his other Royals’ teammates when West Indies take on England! Jofra Archer: 3/29 vs Bangladesh With 386 to defend against Bangladesh, Eoin Morgan placed the new ball in Archer’s hands. Not needing a second invitation, Jofra unleashed his pace on the Bangladesh openers. He served up the fastest ODI spell ever from an English bowler in the last 13 years. His five overs averaged 145.9 Kmh (90.6 mph). His performance was much beyond the just numeric stats as he made the batsmen uncomfortable beyond measure. Jofra made England’s first break through as he claimed Soumya Sarkar’s wicket. It was an eye catching 143 kph length delivery on the stumps. A huge gap between bat and pad allowed Jofra’s delivery to sneak in and kiss the offstump. That was not all, the ball took off after hitting the stumps and made its way to the boundary rope. In the final 2 overs of the game, Jofra took the wicket of Mehidy Hasan and dismissed Mustafizur for a duck to end Bangladesh’s misery. The 24-year-old was at this very best, as he helped England ease their way to a 108-run victory over Bangladesh. Ben Stokes: 3/23 vs Bangladesh Ben Stokes was efficient in the bowling department as his first notable contribution involved came in the form of a maiden over against the threatening Shakib-Al-Hasan. Stokes went a step further and then took the wicket of the danger man. Stokes bowled a toe-crushing delivery which Shakib just couldn’t squeeze out, the ball went onto brush his toe and rocked right onto the stumps. Stokes next grabbed his second wicket in the 43rd over of the game as he dismissed Mosaddek Hossain and then followed it up by claiming the wicket of Saifuddin as well. Another impressive show from Ben Stokes in the World cup. Jos Buttler: 64 (44) vs Bangladesh With team-mate Jason Roy scoring 153, it was no surprise that Jos Buttler would contribute with another memorable knock. Buttler was devastating and did not take too much time to settle in. He went after Mosadek Hossein and Mehidy Hassan who were left clueless on how to bowl to him. A new ball was later required as Buttler bludgeoned a Hossein delivery over long on, to the point it cleared the commentator’s box in Cardiff. He struck another beautifully placed shot, he bent his back leg slightly to batter a Mehidy delivery through the gap between long-on and deep mid-wicket for a boundary. With this kind of mood, one could only imagine the thoughts running through the minds of the Bangladesh bowlers. Buttler hit a total of four sixes and 2 boundaries in his innings. A beautiful innings came to an end as Buttler, who struggled through a thigh injury through his innings, got out for 64 from 44 balls. Liam Livingstone: 53 (69) vs Worchestshire Taking a que from his consistent Royals in the World Cup, Liam Livingstone has been in some great form for Lancashire in the County Championships. After a wonderful 114 put his team in a strong position in the last match, Liam came to the party again in the next match against Worcestershire. Having come in to bat at 32-3 for Lancashire, he solidified the innings with a brisk and unbeaten 53 from 69 balls to enable his team to take the lead. Rain played spoilsport in the match, but not before the aggressive Livingstone hit 8 boundaries and a six. He’s looking in fine touch as Lancashire top the County Championship Division 2 going into their next against Derbyshire. Prashant Chopra: 129 (125) vs Sri Lanka A Prashant Chopra made good use of his opportunity in the India A against a strong Sri Lanka A side as he scored a fantastic century to help his team post a target 292 for the visitors. Opening for India A in the 3rd ODI, Prashant scored a blistering 129 from 125, which included a staggering 17 fours as he smashed the Sri Lanka A bowling attack to all parts of the ground. His batting was again on display in the 4th ODI where he batted in the middle order, this time coming in to bat only for the final ball of the innings. Prashant managed to hit that ball for a massive six by playing the signature helicopter shot to perfection! He seems to be in fine form as India A look to close out and win the series against Sri Lanka A in the 5th and final ODI tomorrow.
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