It was a night where nothing seemed to go right for the Royals. But it’s still early days.
Brief Scores: Gujarat Titans - 192/4 (20) beat Rajasthan Royals - 155/9 (20) by 37 runs.
“We were almost there in terms of run rate. In the Powerplay, we had a better run rate, but we kept losing wickets.”
Sanju Samson’s post-match thoughts perfectly summed up the Royals’ night, who were handed their second loss of the season at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai.
Chasing a steep target of 193, Jos Buttler got off to a flying start, getting to his second fifty of the season in just 23 balls. The pace at which he batted set the foundation for the rest of the batting order, but his dismissal swung the momentum away from the Royals. Captain Sanju Samson looked in good touch too, but an unfortunate run-out ended his stay at the crease much earlier. The middle order then tried to consolidate after some blows at the top, with Shimron Hetmyer patiently seeing off a tricky period alongside Rassie van der Dussen. But it wasn\"t enough as wickets kept falling at regular intervals and the Royals eventually fell short by 37 runs.
Earlier, Sanju Samson won the toss and opted to bowl first. Jimmy Neesham took the new ball in place of Trent Boult, who missed out due to a niggle. It was a good start from the Royals, as they picked two quick wickets inside the Powerplay. Matthew Wade was first run out by a sharp direct hit from Rassie, followed by Vijay Shankar who nicked one to the keeper. Shubman Gill departed immediately after as well, being tempted into playing a big shot off Riyan Parag. At one point, it looked like the Royals had things under control. But it was the Gujarat skipper Hardik Pandya who stitched crucial partnerships in the middle, setting his team up for a strong total on the board.
It was a night where things didn’t go exactly as planned for the Royals, but there are always some positives that we pick up as part of our learnings and move on to the next step.
Here are the key moments from the match:
Jos continues to shine
“For me, it (opening) is the best place to bat in T20 cricket,” Jos had said ahead of the match.
It was no surprise then, to watch him come out all guns blazing and continue his brilliant form this season. Jos’ 54 came off just 24 deliveries and was laced with eight fours and three sixes. The way he creamed the fast bowlers for boundaries, it looked like the Orange Cap holder was in no mood to slow down. Had it not been for a slower one from Lockie Ferguson, Jos’ innings could’ve well been the game-changer for the Royals.
Ashwin’s promotion to No. 3
After being sent out to bat at No. 6 against LSG, Ravichandran Ashwin was promoted to the No. 3 position in this match, ahead of the Royals skipper. The move may not have paid off completely this time, but it is a part of a well-thought strategy that allows the Royals to use their batting depth according to the match situations. In the last game, Ashwin’s two sixes added some crucial runs to the team’s total, eventually helping them defend the same in the final over.
“I was batting at No. 3 continuously till last season. So we decided to have that flexibility, come down at No. 4 or 5 or wherever the team needs me. Having someone like R Ashwin allows us to do that,” Sanju said after the match.
It is still early days in the season and being at the losing end always hurts, irrespective of the margin or the opponent. But as the famous saying goes - the comeback is greater than the setback - it’s time to keep our chins up and focus on our next assignment. This is a team with tremendous potential, solid character and a fighting spirit. With plenty of learnings to take from the game, we move on to the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai to take on Kolkata Knight Riders on April 18.
What did you think of our performance? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter at @rajasthanroyals or with me, @arey_yaar