Win the toss, bowl first, win the match? Nah. Say hello to defending totals! 

Brief Scores: Rajasthan Royals - 210/6 (20 overs) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad - 149/7 (20 overs) by 61 runs.

Runs in full force, wickets aplenty, a strong Net Run Rate, 2 crucial points, loud cheers from the stands and the first Royal captain Shane Warne in remembrance - there couldn’t have been a more perfect night for the Royals, who began their IPL 2022 campaign with a bang. The MCA Stadium in Pune promised an exhilarating and even contest between bat and ball. And that’s exactly what it delivered. 

Captain Sanju Samson led from the front with a stylish half-century, with valuable contributions from the rest of the batting order, as the Royals registered the highest first-innings total of this season so far. It was followed up with an even better bowling performance, thanks to our new-ball pace duo and the ever-present Yuzvendra Chahal.

The green tinge of grass on the surface offered a fair bit of movement to pacers early on in the innings, but that’s when the Sunrisers faltered. A barrage of no-balls in the Powerplay, including two reprieves to the dangerous Jos Buttler, made matters worse. Along with Yashasvi Jaiswal, Buttler stitched a 50-plus opening stand, setting a strong foundation for the batters to follow. From there on, the Sunrisers weren’t really able to make any inroads as the pressure continued to build. 

Their chase didn’t start off on the right note either, with captain Kane Williamson walking back as early as in the 2nd over. Trent Boult kept the pressure on from one end, which helped the likes of Prasidh Krishna and Chahal to attack from the other side. Half-centurion Aiden Markram tried to revive their hopes towards the end with some support from the lower order, but it was too late by then.

Here are the key moments from the match:

The Sanju-Padikkal Show

With Jaiswal and Buttler back in the hut in a span of 3 overs, it was over to the Royals captain to take control, and Samson wasted no time in getting off the mark. His pacy knock of 55 came in just 27 balls, featuring 3 fours and 5 sixes. He was joined by Devdutt Padikkal at the other end, whose debut in Pink was full of visual delight. If it wasn’t for Umran Malik knocking off the timber, Padikkal would’ve posed some serious trouble for the Sunrisers. His 29-ball 41 was laced with beautiful textbook shots - 4 fours, 2 sixes and some picture-perfect poses that he held for the cameras.

Sensational Skiddy at his best

One would think it was just the right day to be a Royals debutant. Another first-time Royal, Prasidh Krishna, cooked up a fiery spell of fast bowling, taking advantage of the bounce and seam on offer. In his very first over, Prasidh got the outside edge off Williamson’s bat, and the ball went past a flying Samson to land in Padikkal’s diving hands. He then came back to dismiss Rahul Tripathi for a duck in his 2nd over. Being 7/2 in 4 overs and staring at a 200-plus target, it only went downhill from there for our opponents. 

Chahal’s Day Out

You can’t keep Yuzi Chahal out of action, can you? The leg-spinner was at his usual best, picking up wickets in bulk and keeping a tight lid on the Sunrisers’ run-scoring. His figures of 3/22 were even more special, as they included a key milestone in his T20 career - his 250th wicket - Romario Shepherd being the victim after his 18-ball 24 cameo.

In only their first game together, the Royals of 2022, featuring some known faces and some fresh ones, impressed with their tremendous teamwork across departments. From setting a humongous target to then dismantling the opponents, they worked like a well-oiled unit and gave nothing away. Whether it was Jaiswal, Hetmyer or Riyan with their cameos or Ashwin with his accuracy, every Royal contributed in their own way to ensure an all-round victory for the team. This is the biggest takeaway from our season opener, one that will help us continue on our path to glory. 

Our caravan now moves to Navi Mumbai, where we’ll take on Mumbai Indians at the DY Patil Stadium on Saturday, 02 April. Let’s Halla Bol!

What did you think of our performance tonight? Who was your ‘Royal of the Match’ ? Share your thoughts with us at @rajasthanroyals or with me @arey_yaar