Talk about breaking your own record of the highest successful run-chase in the IPL! Rajasthan Royals did it, chasing 224 down against Kings XI Punjab with relative ease at the end. It was another tough day at the office for bowlers, as Sharjah witnessed yet another run fest. Before this game, 7 of the 10 matches were won by teams chasing in Sharjah and Smith decided to chase after winning the toss. Sanju Samson & Rahul Tewatia turned the tables on its head, after a tough phase in the middle overs, to storm the team home. We can’t forget another cameo by Jofra Archer at the end, yet again.
Rajasthan Royals had two changes for this game – Jaiswal & Miller were replaced by Buttler & Rajpoot. On a small ground, we added the cushion of an extra bowler. After a couple of quiet overs, Mayank Agarwal took the attack to the bowlers with a few sixes & fours. Archer & Rajpoot bore the brunt of most of the hitting, as KXIP notched up 60/0.
Tewatia & Gopal tried their best to contain the two openers, who play together for Karnataka too, but they kept going with proper cricketing shots that fetched them boundaries. Riyan nearly pulled off a heist at long on, as he leapt for the ball which was soaring over. Riyan got the ball in his palms, but couldn’t keep himself from going over with the momentum. He however, had the smartness to lap the ball back into play.
The duo eased the team past 150 in the 14th over, as Mayank got closer to his maiden IPL century. He got there with a four off Gopal, at the end of the 15th. The score at this point read 172/0. Rajpoot came back to bowl and dished in a series of cheeky balls, conceding just 6 on the over. Tom Curran got us the first wicket in the 17th, as he holed out to deep mid-wicket. Rajpoot got his first wicket as a Royals bowler, dismissing his former Punjab teammate, Rahul on the final ball of his spell. Just when we thought that the kings would be kept under 215, Pooran smashed a few in the final ball and got the total up to 223/2.
The chase got underway with our captain, Steve Smith carrying on from where he left off. Buttler couldn’t quite get going and flicked one to mid-wicket. This brought the match-winners from the previous game together – Samson & Smith. Both of them got going instantly, making the most of the Powerplay. The 69 runs in the Powerplay is the highest so far in this Dream 11 IPL.
The duo kept ticking off each over by accumulating the required runs per over which was a bit over 11. Smith got to his fifty, but sliced one down to deep cover. The Rajasthan Royals thinktank surprised everyone by sending Rahul Tewatia up the order, at number 4. While Samson picked off the boundaries, Tewatia seemed to be struggling against the spinners. He could only collect 8 runs off 19 balls and the pressure kept building on Samson at the other end. After the win, Tewatia looked back at the first part of his innings and said, “those were the worst 20 deliveries of my life.” What happened later was a tale of extreme-level redemption.
Samson smoked Maxwell for three sixes to keep the required rate in some sort of control, but got out to Shami’s short one as he looked to ramp it over the keeper. Unfortunately, he gloved it to Rahul. That wicket must have flared up the pressure, as Uthappa walked out to join Tewatia. He ended the Shami over with two back-to-back boundaries that ensured that the rate didn’t shoot up by a lot.
Salute man, Cottrell came on to bowl the 18th over with 51 needed off 18. Tewatia on strike, and with a lot of critics calling the move a poor one, had a mission to accomplish, for the team and for himself. This is what he went on to do in that over.
Ball 1 – Tewatia pulled a bouncer for a small six over deep square leg.
Ball 2 – He got inside the line and hoicked one over square leg. The ball went onto the road for some passers-by to take back home as a souvenir.
Ball 3 – 3 in 3! He got a full delivery, and it vanished beyond long off.
Ball 4 – He went down on his knees to a low full toss and helped it over the leg side.
Ball 5 – It was in the slot outside off, but somehow, just somehow, Tewatia missed it.
Ball 6 – Back at it! Tewatia sent the ball flying over mid-wicket for the 5th six of the over.
If you ever want to tell a redemption tale to your kids or grandkids, this is the one.
Uthappa got out to Shami on the first ball of the next over, but that got another in-form man to the crease – Jofra Archer. He did to Shami, exactly what he’d done to Ngidi the other night. First ball – six; second ball – six! The last 42 runs came all in sixes, bringing the equation down to 9 off 10.
Tewatia broadened the gap further by showing off his hitting range. Short, outside off, he played a powerful cut over point for a biggie and got to his maiden IPL fifty. The redemption tale ended on the next delivery, but the damage was more than done for Punjab.
We needed just 2 runs in the final over to complete the record chase. Riyan, who replaced Tewatia, played a dot ball and then got bowled off Murugan Ashwin. It was left to all-rounder Tom Curran, who came on and chipped the ball over the covers to find the winning runs with a four.
The Rajasthan Royals batsmen showed what winning from anywhere means. There was a lot of heart within the camp to gun down the chase, especially after we posted 216 against CSK a few days ago at this very venue. Spearheaded by Samson and Smith’s start, we began well, had some trouble along the way in the middle overs, but got back our fiery selves once again towards the death. It is a win that shows the belief we have in ourselves as a team and the never-give-up attitude. We have moved to number 2 on the points table. This is just the start, and Rajasthan Royals have many more magnificent victories to accomplish in this edition of the Dream 11 IPL. Halla Bol!