With stats backing RR to do the double over an in-form MI, few would have been surprised as RR chased down a total of 162 to win at the SMS stadium in today’s 4pm fixture. The depth in batting talent definitely came to surface as Smith, Samson and youngster, Riyan Parag all hit memorable knocks scoring 59 (48), 35 (19) and 43 (29), respectively. Smith was the orchestrator as he remained unbeaten in the end to carry RR all the way through. RR came into this game with Steve Smith taking over captaincy from Ajinkya Rahane. He got off to an ideal start as he won the toss and elected to bowl first. RR was without Jos Buttler for this game, who headed back to England to be with his expecting wife. Stuart Binny opened the bowling for RR and was efficient, giving away just 3 runs in the first over with 3 dot balls to his name. It was not long before RR made their first breakthrough thanks to Shreyas Gopal! Shreyas got the better of the dangerous Rohit Sharma whi bat-padded a googly straight to Shreyas. The MI captain was on his way back to the stands after scoring just 5 runs off just 7 balls. Over the next few overs, Steve Smith introduced a further 3 different bowlers into the attack in the form of Archer, Parag & Unadkat. By the end of the Powerplay, MI was 46-1 with Suryakumar Yadav and Quinton de Kock at the crease. de Kock had raced away to 33 runs off 22 balls. The de Kock-Yadav partnership would add 97 runs to MI’s total and would carry on till the end of the 13th over. It was Stuart Binny who would break the MI momentum, as his slower short of length delivery enticed Suryakumar Yadav to back away and attempt the pull, but he ended up top-edging it to deep backward square, where Kulkarni quickly covered up ground to his right to take a well-judged catch. It was a well-deserved wicket for Stuart Binny who had bowled a tight spell with an economy of 6.33. Hardik Pandya replaced Yadav at the crease. Not too long after the dismissing Suryakumar Yadav, RR were on song again as de Kock decided to take on a Shreyas Gopal googly delivery, but mistimed it towards long-on, where Ben Stokes set himself up, to comfortably take the catch. A quick two wickets is just what RR needed and it dismantled a threatening batting partnership! At end of the 17th over, the Mumbai Indians had two new batsmen at the crease and were 128-4. The next MI wicket would be that of Kieron Pollard, who was bowled by a slower length delivery from Unadkat. Pollard just did not read or anticipate it, and was too eager, too early in his shot. As he tried to play across the line, the off-cutter went through him and took down the stumps. Following this, Hardik Pandya put up some resistance as he contributed 23 (15), with two 4s and a six to his name. Jofra Archer had other ideas as he bowled a fabulous Yorker which Pandya just could not connect with as he attempted the flick. The ball ended up striking the sole of his shoe and the replays confirmed that he was out LBW! MI ended their innings with a score of 161-4 with Cutting and Krunal Pandya adding a total of 15 runs between them in the final over. The deployment of different bowlers by Steve Smtih proved to be effective as Stuart Binny ended with figures of 1-19. With 162 to chase, RR opened their batting with Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Samson. Samson started his innings in style as he hit two boundaries in the opening over. He first pounced onto a length delivery from Hardik Pandya and pulled it through mid-wicket with ease, beating the sprinting fielder in the deep with great conviction. He didn’t stop there, as the next delivery from Pandya which was another short of a length delivery, was glided past the fielder at short third man for a four. Samson went one step further in the next over, as he hit another 3 boundaries against Krunal Pandya. He looked in the mood to wreak havoc on the MI bowling. Ajinkya Rahane also got in on the act as he hit two boundaries in the 3rd over but was caught out as he chipped the ball to cover from a Chahar delivery. Rahane gave us a quick injection of runs as he finished with 12 runs off 12 balls with a quick cameo. Steve Smith, the captain was the next man to enter the fray as he replaced Rahane and joined Samson at the crease. Smith would take 10 deliveries to settle before hitting two boundaries in the 5th over. One was punched through backward point and for the other delivery; he lashed the cut between backward point and short third man. RR ended the Powerplay at 60-1. Smith was on 15 runs off 8 balls and Samson had racked up 28 runs off 16 balls. Unfortunately, Samson did not go onto make his half century as in the 7th over he advanced forward looking to go all the way, but he made contact with the outside half of the bat and Pollard got underneath to take the catch. MI was relieved to have got the wicket of the destructive Samson. Samson was replaced by Ben Stokes in the 7th. However, he did not manage to settle himself and was bowled by Rahul Chahar in the same over. Riyan Parag was next in. He played an innings beyond his years as he was composed at the crease. He combined well with Steve Smtih and the two batsmen carried the team all the way till the middle of the 17th over. From the 8th to the 17th over, Riyan made a total 43 off 29 hitting 5 boundaries and one six. This included a variety of shots over extra cover, some edged through slip and a scoop. Unfortunately, this memorable innings did not end with a half century as he was run out by Cutting. Ashton Turner was next onto the scene but was unable to make a mark as he was dismissed for a duck within the next 6 balls for LBW, at the start of the 18th over from a Bumrah delivery. He was beaten for pace as he tried to tuck it away. The stage was all set now for Stuart Binny to wrap this game up for RR with Steve Smith by his side. In the 18th over, Binny and Smith added 5 singles to the board to ease the pressure. With 4 runs required off the final over, Stuart Binny attempted a flick off an inviting Malinga full toss and got somewhat of a tickle with his connection as it ran away really fine for a four. The game was won with 5 balls to spare. Smith played through till the final over and his unbeaten 59 (48) really helped RR power the team through difficult periods. RR showed they meant business and now have the double over the Mumbai Indians in this Vivo IPL 2019. Let’s not forget that this is the 4th successive victory against the Mumbai Indians. RR hope to carry this momentum into the remaining games of the season. Halla Bol!
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