IPL 2014 was historic in more ways than one. It was for the first time ever that an edition was co-hosted by two countries. While the first few matches were held in the UAE, normalcy was restored in the remainder of the tournament as the teams returned home to India. Like all the other seasons, cricketing action was at its peak. The Royals enjoyed a strong start this season but missed out on the qualifier spot in the last ball of their last match. Nonetheless, this season saw some terrific performances that were etched in the memories of the fans forever. This week let us cast our mind back to some of the top batting performances by Royals stars in 2014 –
Ajinkya Rahane 72 (59) vs. Kolkata Knight Riders at Abu Dhabi
The clash between the Rajasthan Royals and the Kolkata Knight Riders at Abu Dhabi in 2014 was the most closely contested IPL match ever. The scores for this match were tied, and so were the scores in the super overs. The match, thus, was decided by boundary-count. However, one man who set the ball rolling for this nail-biter was Ajinkya Rahane. On a sluggish pitch against the talented KKR spinners, most of the Royals batsmen found it difficult to get going. Rahane almost single-handedly took the team to a competitive score. He built small partnerships with Sanju Samson and Shane Watson to keep his team in the hunt. His innings which comprised of 6 boundaries and 1 six helped the Royals get a memorable victory thanks to some super-over heroics from Steve Smith.
Karun Nair 73 (50) vs. Delhi Daredevils at New Delhi
When on song Karun Nair’s batting can be extremely pleasing to the eye. Chasing a moderate score of 154, Nair made short work of the chase by producing a sublime innings at the top. His innings was filled with classy shots of the highest caliber. He was severe on the pacers and the spinners alike. Nair took apart experienced and talented bowlers like Jaydev Unadkat, Wayne Parnell and Shahbaz Nadeem en route to 73 which included 2 big hits and 8 boundaries. Nair’s innings was particularly commendable because not only did he set up the win by giving a good start, he, in fact, took the responsibility and finished the game by staying till the end. This comfortable win also significantly boosted the Royals run-rate, which is always crucial in the IPL.
Sanju Samson 74 (47) vs. Mumbai Indians at Mumbai
The stage was set for a massive encounter between the Mumbai Indians and the Rajasthan Royals in the last match of the league phase in 2014. There was everything to play for both the teams as it was practically a knockout game. This was when the young Sanju Samson stepped up for his team. He made his intentions very clear by on-driving the second ball of the match to the boundary. Although Shane Watson was struggling to get going at the other end, Samson with his power hitting and deft touches ensured that the scoring-rate was never too low. Once, Watson was dismissed, a spectacular partnership between Samson and Karun Nair ensued. Mumbai Indians went in with a three-pronged spin attack, and Samson used his crease brilliantly to counter the bowlers. His timing throughout the innings was sublime, and the slog sweep for six off Shreyas Gopal will long live in the memories of the Royals fan. When he was batting it looked like RR would run away with the match. Unfortunately, in the 15th over he mistimed a hoick over point as he holed out to Harbhajan Singh. Nonetheless, Royals on the back of this batting masterclass were able to post a fighting total of 190 on the board in a crucial encounter.