After winning four games on the trot against MI, since 2018, Mumbai Indians managed to win a game against Rajasthan Royals in Abu Dhabi. While our bowlers did a good job in patches, the batting department lost track early in pursuit of 194. Buttler was left stranded at one end, as the first 3 wickets fell in the first three overs of the Powerplay. Jos tried his best to keep the run-rate up with some audacious hitting, but was undone by a game-changing catch taken by Pollard. The task was too uphill for the middle-order to scale and the Royals eventually lost the game by 57 runs, a third consecutive loss.

After winning a few tosses in the row, Rajasthan Royals skipper, Steve Smith lost this one. Rohit Sharma decided to bat first. There were 3 changes in the Royals camp. Kartik Tyagi was handed his Royals and T20 debut, while Rajpoot & Jaiswal made their way back into the playing XI. Missing out were Parag, Uthappa & Unadkat, who have had a lean patch in this tournament.

The MI openers got off to a sound start, but the first breakthrough came in Kartik Tyagi’s first over in T20 cricket. He bowled a sharp bouncer that de Kock looked to hook, but got a top-edge instead. Buttler settled under the ball with ease. Mumbai scored rather freely in the Powerplay, accumulating 57 runs.

Rohit Sharma & Suryakumar Yadav played some lovely strokes to keep the run-rate over 9. Shreyas Gopal, who had bowled in the Powerplay earlier, started off with flat trajectories, but corrected it in his third over. With the first ball, he dismissed Sharma who lofted the ball to long on. On the next delivery, Kishan tried to go over the top, but mistimed the ball to Samson at cover. Both wickets came off flighted deliveries. Gopal was on a hat-trick, but the seasoned Yadav defended the ball calmly.

Tewatia & Gopal bowled a couple of quiet overs and the run-rate was brought under 9 by the end of the 13th over. Archer was brought back to fetch a wicket, and he did so by bowling a fast one to Krunal Pandya, who awkwardly lobbed the ball to Gopal at mid-wicket. Tyagi bowled out in the next over, finishing with figures of 1/36.

Hardik Pandya & Yadav got together as the death overs approached. Curran and Archer started off in the final 5 overs. While they did find the yorkers, the MI pair punished the lose balls. Yadav was particularly innovative with his shot selection too. Curran dropping Hardik didn’t help the Royals’ cause either. The 19th over, Archer’s final one for the day went for 15 runs and MI were looking good to easily go past 180. Rajpoot bowled the final over and conceded 17 runs which included a no-ball too. Mumbai Indians ended up with 193/4. The Royals had a steep chase to go after.

The innings didn’t start on an ideal note for Rajasthan Royals. Yashasvi Jaiswal who got back into the side lost his wicket on the second ball, nicking one off Boult to de Kock. The second blow followed when Smith looked to play an uncharacteristic heave off Bumrah. The length was a bit too full and all Smith could manage was an inside edge, that was taken by de Kock who dived to his left.

The first three overs yielded a wicket each for MI, as Samson couldn’t connect a pull shot off Boult. He was caught wide of mid-on and all of a sudden Rajasthan Royals were 12/3. Last match’s batting hero, Lomror joined Buttler, who kept attacking the MI bowlers in an attempt to keep up with the required run-rate.

Lomror perished when he looked to take on Chahar. The ball dropped around the mid-off region where substitute fielder, Anukul Roy took a stunning catch. Buttler didn’t stop though, as he smashed Chahar for six on the next ball having crossed. Jos smashed a six off each of the next four overs, going past 50 in the process. It was his third consecutive half-century against MI.

It took an unbelievable catch by Pollard to end Buttler’s counter-attacking knock. The Englishman lofted the ball flat towards long on. Pollard leapt high up and stuck his hand out, as the ball stuck right in. Tewatia and the lower order couldn’t quite get the wheels rolling for Rajasthan Royals, as they lost their wickets without troubling the scorers much. Archer smashed a few boundaries, but it was Bumrah who was claiming wickets, ending up with a 4-wicket haul.

Rajasthan Royals got bowled out on 136, losing the game by 57 runs. The loss has further disturbed our net run-rate in this season. From -0.23 odd, it dropped further to -0.662 after the third back-to-back loss. We currently sit seventh on the points table, but not all is lost. There’s a fair bit of homework that needs to be done as we return to a venue where we won our first two games, Sharjah on Friday. We meet an in-form Delhi Capitals there and it becomes even more vital now for the team to get 2 points.