Shimron Hetmyer’s unbeaten 59 followed by a sensational all-round bowling performance helped the Royals successfully defend a total for the third time in IPL 2022.

Brief Scores: Rajasthan Royals 165/6 (20 overs) beat Lucknow Super Giants 162/8 (20 overs) by 3 runs.

6 balls, 15 runs to defend. A typical edge-of-the-seat thriller. An electrifying atmosphere!

A packed audience at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai waited with bated breath as Royals debutant Kuldeep Sen ran in to bowl the final over of the match. Facing him was Avesh Khan, whose only aim was to take a single. At the non-striker’s end was Marcus Stoinis, playing his first game of the season, and batting on 28. Avesh took a single, handing the strike back to the Aussie. Kuldeep bowled three consecutive dot balls to Stoinis and from thereon, a Royals victory almost looked certain. The last two balls went for a four and six but by then, the game was already sealed.

Earlier in the day, the Royals were once again asked to bat first. This time, a new opening pair in Jos Buttler and Devdutt Padikkal made their way out in the middle. The duo got off to a decent start, scoring 42 runs in the first five overs. But Jos was dismissed in the final over of the Powerplay, and by the end of the 10th over, the Royals had lost three more wickets in a flurry. But then came Shimron Hetmyer, whose first half-century of the season, coupled with some lusty blows from Ravichandran Ashwin helped the team post a competitive total on the board. 

Yet again, Yuzvendra Chahal’s leg-spin was at the forefront of the Royals’ bowling attack. Trent Boult rattled Lucknow’s chase at the start with his double blow, and Chahal followed suit in the second half. An expensive penultimate over made way to a see-saw final over, and it ultimately ended in a 3-run win for the Royals.

Here are the key moments from the match:

Hetmyer’s purple patch continues

With a strike rate of over 200 in every match, Shimron Hetmyer seems to be loving his job as the ultimate finisher. The Royals have batted first in all four games so far, and Shimron has only bettered his numbers with every innings, giving his side the impetus they need towards the end. This knock was even more special and important, as it came under some pressure and required him to consolidate after the Royals had lost four wickets inside 10 overs. In his first 25 balls, he hit a solitary six and kept the scoreboard ticking with crucial ones and twos. But as soon as his 50-run partnership with Ashwin was up in the 18th over, Shimron went hammer and tongs against the Lucknow bowlers, also getting to his fifty in the process - with a six!

Lightning Boult strikes twice!

A left-arm pacer bowling round the wicket, an inswinging beauty at the speed of light, the dislodging of bails - the Royals couldn’t have asked for a more sensational start to the second innings. Trent Boult bowled a peach of a delivery to Lucknow captain KL Rahul, uprooting his off and middle stump on the very first ball of their chase. It set the ball rolling for the Royals, who were then treated to another wicket on the third ball. This time though, Boult went over the wicket to K Gowtham and bowled another inswinger, trapping him plumb in front. There was no reviewing that one!

Yuzi’s magic arm delivers again

There’s no stopping him, is there? Yuzvendra Chahal has started the season with a bag full of wickets. And it was only fitting that he ended this match as the Purple Cap holder. Chahal’s four-wicket haul broke the spine of Lucknow’s batting order and included the key wicket of Quinton de Kock, who was holding fort at one end as wickets kept tumbling at the other. Once again, the leg-spinner delivered a double-wicket over, getting rid of de Kock and Krunal Pandya in a span of three balls. In the process, he also became only the fourth spinner to have taken 150 wickets in the IPL. 

Kuldeep impresses on debut

The right-arm pacer was impressive on his first outing with the Royals, finishing with figures of 1/35 in his four overs, including bowling the 20th over that helped the Royals seal a well-deserved win. Kuldeep was consistently bowling at speeds of over 140 kph, making even the set batsmen work hard for their runs. He took the crucial wicket of Deepak Hooda in the 10th over. 

It was a close contest against an in-form team, but the Royals displayed tremendous guts and patience with the bat as well as the ball. They didn’t panic despite losing wickets in a bundle, and held their nerves while bowling. Some inspired bowling changes and interesting batting choices were made, and they all came together in the end to help the team pull off a stunner. With 6 points in 4 matches and a healthy net run rate, we are now placed at the top of the points table. We move on to the DY Patil Stadium next, where we take on Gujarat Titans on April 14.

What did you think of our performance? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter at @rajasthanroyals or with me, @arey_yaar