Rajasthan Royals’ dream to make it to the Playoffs came to a disheartening end in Dubai. A strong batting & bowling performance by Morgan’s men got the better of the Royals, as they lost the game by 60 runs. The Royals conceded too many runs in the second half of KKR’s innings, letting the Knights go off the hook after they were 5 down for 100. The Royals got nowhere in the chase after 5 wickets fell in the Powerplay itself. Buttler & Tewatia’s fight went in vain, as KKR still hope for that Playoff berth.
Steve Smith won a very important toss and elected to bowl in Dubai. Some of the previous games had a lot of dew setting in before the second innings, and has helped chasing teams win matches of late. We had an unchanged team for this must-win encounter against the Knights.
Archer got into his usual business by getting the early wicket, that of Rana for a golden duck. His first two overs went for just three runs. However, the other bowlers conceded a flurry of boundaries to let Gill & Tripathi off the hook. They played some good strokes off Aaron & Gopal and got KKR’s score to 55/1.
The 50-stand between the two young KKR batsmen threatened to keep building on after the Powerplay until Tewatia worked his magic. He enticed Gill with a flighted ball that he went after. However, Gill didn’t get it off the middle and holed out to Buttler at long on. KKR sent Sunil Narine to tackle the two leggies in our line-up, but the move barely lasted for an over. Tewatia’s loopy ball was too tempting for him to not have a go. Narine miscued the slog and was caught by Stokes at long on.
A couple of tight overs built some pressure on Morgan & the set Tripathi. The latter looked to win back the momentum, but was out to a fine running catch by Uthappa in the deep. The former Royals player departed on 39. A second golden duck in the innings followed, as Karthik inside-edged a Tewatia floater to Smith at mid-wicket. All of a sudden, KKR had lost half their side with the score on 100.
An undeterred Morgan counter-attacked by smacking two back-to-back fours & sixes, as the 14th over by Gopal went for 21 runs. Russell took advantage of the momentum as he picked up a four and a six off Archer. Coming back into the side today, Russell looked like a man on a mission and his stay got threatening as he smashed two consecutive sixes off Tyagi in the 16th over. Tyagi stayed calm and bowled a wide ball outside off on the third ball. Russell reached out and smashed the ball, but straight to David Miller at deep point, where he was substituting for Buttler. A huge threat was eliminated with that blow.
Archer & Stokes kept things tight for the next two overs by bowling smart balls, full of variations. Stokes though, bore the brunt of a Morgan onslaught in the 19th over. His England white-ball skipper took hm for three towering sixes & a four to pick up 24 runs off the over. Tyagi managed to dismiss Cummins on the second ball of the final over. In an attempt to keep strike, Morgan refused to run a single off the 4th and 5th balls and managed to finish the innings off with a monumental hit. KKR finished on 191/7.
The Royals had another steep chase at their hands, and a good start is what they needed. Plenty of calculations of how the net run rate could rise over DC or RCB’s were making rounds before the game. If we were to have a better NRR, we had to chase the target down in 13.3 overs. When the chase began the Royals’ focus was on completing the chase and securing 2 points. Uthappa & Stokes got off to a flier. The former KKR player started off with a nonchalant pick-up shot for six off Cummins. Stokes then picked up a streaky boundary to fine leg before he ramped Cummins for six to the same part of the ground. However, the dream-start had a hiccup as Uthappa flicked a length ball uppishly to the deep square leg fielder. The first over saw 19 runs and a wicket – quite an entertaining start.
The Royals suffered a second blow as Karthik plucked one out of thin air, diving to his left to dismiss Ben Stokes. After a century and a fifty, Stokes went back for 18 runs this time. It was a huge wicket for KKR with Smith & Samson coming together at the crease to take the chase back on track. The skipper got a boundary off Cummins, but his inside edge got the better of him. Looking to punch the ball through cover, the ball kissed the inside edge and ricocheted onto the stumps. Three down, the Royals found themselves in a position they were in when they met KKR earlier in the season. Samson fell prey to a nippy delivery by Mavi, as he nicked his attempt to play on the up; Karthik did the rest. The Royals were in all sorts of trouble, on 32/4.
Morgan kept Cummins on for a third over in the Powerplay and he managed to dismiss Parag, who was caught in an awkward position trying to pull a short one. He got a glove and Karthik did the rest. 5 overs, 5 wickets – that was the picture the Royals had painted for themselves in the chase.
Buttler and Tewatia had a mountain to climb and started slowly. Buttler picked up the occasional boundary to ensure that the required rate didn’t climb up drastically. Tewatia provided able support to Buttler, and the pair ran well between the wickets. The 43-run stand came to an end when Buttler looked to forcefully pull Chakravarthy. He was caught by Cummins at deep mid-wicket on 35.
After Buttler’s departure, much of the onus fell on Tewatia’s shoulders. He seemed confident against Narine as he scored a boundary and a six in the 12th over. Gopal & Tewatia threw their bat at almost everything and scrambled through for singles & twos, as the score went past 100. Tewatia fell in Varun’s final over, as he top-edged a sweep and was caught by Karthik.
Morgan was hoping to bowl the Royals out under 111 to get KKR’s NRR over DC’s, but the lower order put in some resistance to cross the score in the 16th over. Gopal managed to play some exciting reverse sweeps off Narine.
It was just not Rajasthan Royals’ day on the field. Despite having some control while bowling, they gave it away in the final few overs, and the chase had no direction whatsoever after the first over. There are plenty of learnings for the entire squad from this tournament. A couple of games were lost from winning positions, costing us the Playoffs spot. There were numerous positives as well. Tewatia & Archer were consistent performers right through the season, while Stokes, Samson, Buttler & Smith were among the runs at various points in the league. Kartik Tyagi’s emergence was a bright spot in the season as well. Dream11 IPL 2020 has been a challenging one for Rajasthan Royals, but they will take heart from the way the team fought in the last few games. We are a team that stands together irrespective of the on-field result, and that is what keeps us strong in all situations.