What a week it has been in the cricketing world! There have been some stunning batting, bowling and fielding performances which will long be remembered in the cricketing fraternity. The most astonishing of them being the performance of Pakistani speedster Mohammad Irfan. Playing for the Barbados Tridents, Irfan not only dismissed danger man Chris Gayle with his first delivery, but also removed Gayle’s flamboyant opening partner in his second over. What was even more remarkable was the fact that Irfan conceded just a solitary run in his quota of four overs. However, despite his heroics, the tridents were comfortably humbled by a calm St. Kitts team.
Internationally, at Bready, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan spinners spun a web around the Irish batting line up to win the 3 match T20I series 2-0, with the third T20I being washed out without a ball being bowled. Powered by another impressive innings by opener Hazratullah Zazai, the visitors set a competitive target of 161. In reply, the Irish batting line-up could never get going while facing the classy duo of Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan. While the former finished with figures of 3/17, Khan took 4 wickets for just 17 runs. This win once again shows how Afghanistan has been making giant strides as a cricketing nation.
At home, the quadrangular list A tournament between India A, India B, Australia A and South Africa A, started on a bad note as multiple matches had to abandoned due to heavy rain. However, once the action got underway, some of the best up and coming and experienced players showed their mettle by turning out of their respective sides and staking a claim for international call-ups.
Another tournament in India, which has been set ablaze with glittering performances by Indian players is the Karnataka Premier League. The tournament entered its second week, with Bengaluru Blasters and Hubli Tigers opening up a gap between themselves and the rest of the teams.
In England, the T20 Vitality Blast has entered the knock out stages, and the action is set to intensify as some of the biggest players in the world take the big stage to try and win matches for their respective teams. Many of the top performers at the various international and domestic tournaments were some of our own Rajasthan Royals team. Let us take a quick look at how the past week has been for the boys in blue.
Gopal, the Go-to-Man for India B team
Shreyas Gopal has always performed well for his team whenever he has had an opportunity. Yet, his performances have often been overshadowed by other performances. This has changed in the ongoing list A Quadrangular tournament in India, where has been the standout spinner in the India B team. In the first match, Shreyas Gopal broke the back of the South African batting order by getting rid of three batsmen. The fact that he managed to bamboozle a seasoned cricketer like Farhan Behardeen shows how he has developed his skills. In addition to Behardeen, Gopal also accounted for the wickets of Senuran Muthusamy and lower order batsman Sisanda Mangala, to finish with figures of 3 for 42 from his quota of 10 overs. His contribution helped the India B side restrict a formidable South African batting line-up to a below-par score of 231, which was easily chased down by the batsmen, under the Duckworth and Lewis Method.
Shreyas Gopal also shone brightly against the India A side, in which he dismissed one of the most consistent and in-form players in the country today. Ambati Rayudu was deceived by Gopal’s delivery to be clean bowled when he was batting on 48 (75) balls. He also dismissed a dangerous looking Sanju Samson, to cut his innings on 32 off 52 balls. These two performances will surely give Gopal a lot of confidence as he managed to dismiss high-quality batsmen who were well set. We wish Gopal all the best for his future matches.
Krishnappa Crushes the Aussies
Shreyas Gopal’s state-mate Krishnappa Gowtham too made a strong statement by putting in a fine exhibition of spin bowling against the Australian side. What was supposed to be a good contest was reduced to a one-sided encounter largely due to Krishnappa Gowtham’s performance. Gowtham dismissed three Australian top-order batsmen in quick succession to leave the Australian batting line-up reeling. Peter Handscomb, who is one of the mainstays of the Australian A team, was the first to be dismissed by Gowtham when he was stumped after being deceived in pace and flight. The next victim of Gowtham was Australian T20 sensation Travis Head. Head was looking set for a big one when he was dismissed for 28 (38). Gowtham followed up the Head’s dismissal by getting the better of Mathew Renshaw, who is best remembered for his performances in his last tour to India.
Apart from this match, Gowtham also made his presence felt with some lusty hitting coming at the end of the innings. All in all, our Royals’ sensation has been making all the right kind of noises before the domestic season in India kick-off.
D’Arcy Short and Sanju Samson Contributes
D’Arcy Short and Sanju Samson also looked good in the ongoing Quadrangular tournament. While Short has been giving steady starts to his team, Sanju Samson has more often than not come when the team is in trouble. Samson attempts to resurrect the innings have been heart-warming, however, every time he looked to be in good touch he ended up running out of partners at the other end. His innings of 36 off 42 balls against the South Africa and 32 off 52 balls against the India B was a case of what could have been. We hope in the future Samson gets a chance to play a long innings and show what he is truly capable of.
Stokes Gets His Strokes Right
Ben Stokes warmed up for the fourth test against India in still by turning up for his county side Durham in the ongoing Vitality Blast tournament against Sussex. Stokes flourished as an opener as he gave his side a rollicking start to the innings by scoring a fluent 34 of 24 balls. Although this was not enough to win the match for his side, it was good enough sign for all the England and Rajasthan Royals fans.
The coming week is an eagerly anticipated one for all the cricket fans as the India vs. England test series resumes with the series nicely poised at 2-1 with two matches to go. We will be tracking the series closely along with other competitions like the Caribbean Premier League, Vitality Blast, Karnataka Premier League and the Quadrangular List A tournament in India. We hope all the Royals players bring their A game on and thrill fans all over the world. Halla Bol!