Rajasthan Royals (RR) are finally back to winning ways after an 85-run partnership for the 6th wicket between Riyan Parag and Rahul Tewatia helped them get past the line, chasing a target of 159 against the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) at Dubai in the 26th match of the Indian Premier League.
RR got off to a good start with the ball, keeping the Sunrisers Hyderabad top-order down to 26 in the first 6 overs along with the prized scalp of Jonny Bairstow, thanks to a stunning catch by Samson at square leg off Kartik Tyagi. Warner and Pandey then started to force the rate by taking on the two RR leggies, Shreyas Gopal and Rahul Tewatia, but RR pulled things back with their bowling changes and immaculate line and length.
Warner, on 48, received a fast, full and straight delivery from Archer, his nemesis throughout Australia’s tour of England a month ago, and had his stumps re-arranged. Pandey, having got to his fifty, holed out at a crucial junction of the innings yet again, and a last-ditch onslaught from Kane Williamson and Priyam Garg helped the men in orange get to 158.
Ben Stokes, promoted to open the batting in his first competitive Cricket match in two months, dragged on to his stumps off Khaleel Ahmed in the second over. RR then lost their skipper Steven Smith via the run out route after some hesitation between him and Jos Buttler ended up him being well short at the non-striker’s end. Buttler didn’t last long either, edging behind to Jonny Bairstow off Khaleel 3 balls later, and the Royals, having lost three of their top-order batsmen early on yet again, were staring down the barrel.
Robin Uthappa walked in and was gifted with a couple of leg-stump-line hit me deliveries from Khaleel, off which he took 10 runs. He and Samson batted until the first time-out of the innings, following which Uthappa was found right in front off Rashid and had to depart, having wasted a review in the process. The dismissal of Samson in the following Rashid Khan over was an agonizing sight for the RR camp, who feared a déjà vu of the previous game.
But then, Riyan Parag and Rahul Tewatia produced a masterclass on how to chase down a target from a crunch situation, a lot like the KXIP game, except the chase this time was far more calculated and planned. Tewatia and Parag played out the middle-overs and went on the attack in the last 4, in which Tewatia, to all of our amusement, smashed 3 back-to-back boundaries off Rashid Khan’s last over and took 12 out of the 14 off the penultimate over from Natarajan, which brought the equation down to 8 off the last 6 deliveries. Two braces and two singles later, Riyan Parag smashed a full toss from Khaleel Ahmed miles over the extra cover ropes and broke into a celebratory jig, sealing a welcome victory for his side.
SRH v RR – Major Talking Points from the match
Jofra Archer gets David Warner again
Over the course of the latter part of the English Cricket season this year, Jofra Archer had bowled his best deliveries at David Warner, thereby dismissing the left-handed Australian opener on a total of 5 occasions. It gradually went on to become a discussion-worthy topic, with the contest between the two being an anticipated one in today’s match. Archer bowled 8 sharp deliveries at Warner spanning over different stages of the SRH innings, in which the SRH skipper managed only 3 runs, and was comprehensively bowled off the 8th, a swift yorker from the England International.
Manish Pandey failing to bat till the end yet again
Manish Pandey, much like in the earlier matches, got to his fifty and was looking good to end the innings with a flourish, but instead ended up holing out to Rahul Tewatia at long-on. The fact that he did all the hard work, sprinting those singles and doubles in the afternoon heat of Dubai and finding the fence off bad balls, made it look much more agonizing and frustrating.
Pandey was also guilty of falling cheaply just as he looked to break free in the death overs against KKR, but fell in a rather tame fashion with a couple of overs left. Due to his untimely dismissals in the latter stages, SRH have been deprived of the extra 20-30 runs that Pandey could have potentially brought, which cost them the game today as well.
Rajasthan Royals middle-order winning a game for their team
The second highest unbeaten 6th wicket stand in a successful chase in the Indian Premier League was recorded today by the team that seemed the unlikeliest out of the 8 to do so in the IPL this year. More than being pleased about the win, the Rajasthan Royals will be pleased with the fact that it was the effort of two batsmen not from the top-order that won them the game from a very difficult situation. Tewatia had walked in after the wicket of Samson with 81 still required off the last 8 overs.
He and Parag started off by keeping the score ticking with singles, and once set, both went on the attack. Tewatia emerged as a game-changer with the bat yet again, as he mind-bogglingly targeted both of SRH’s strike bowlers, Rashid Khan and Thangarasu Natarajan. He first reverse-swept and drove his way to three boundaries off the 18th from Rashid, and then moved in both directions across the stumps in consecutive deliveries from Natarajan in the penultimate over and dispatched the left-armer for a boundary past extra cover first and a maximum over fine leg next ball. This meant that the pressure was eased off Parag, who smashed a six to bring up the winning runs at the end.
SRH v RR – Eventful moments from the match
Khaleel Ahmed’s hilarious yet productive diving effort to save a run for his side
There have been several instances of the third umpire checking for the hand or the leg of any part of the lower body of a fielder touching the rope in the action of saving a boundary. Today’s instance of Khaleel’s head touching the advertising hoardings in the course of the left-arm seamer saving a boundary at fine-leg was certainly a first in the IPL.
Here’s what happened – Rashid Khan strayed down the leg-side while bowling to Sanju Samson in the 12th over, and the ball beat Jonny Bairstow behind the stumps. Khaleel Ahmed gave a typical fast bowler’s chase, and then, just as it looked like the ball would win the race, he dived head-first and somehow wriggled the ball away from the rope with his left hand, in the process bumping his head with the rope. The third umpire, after several replays, found no conclusive evidence of the left-armer being in contact with the ball when his head touched the rope, and Khaleel, with a rather unusual effort, helped save a run for his side.
Rahul Tewatia’s altercation with Khaleel Ahmed
To be honest, there was no reason for Tewatia to react the way he did in this instance. He had played yet another blinder to take Rajasthan on the brink of a much-needed win, and with 3 required off 3, he tried to run a brace to deep mid-wicket but was obstructed by Khaleel Ahmed while going for the second. Words were exchanged between the two, and from the look of things, Tewatia was the one who looked to be more fired up than his opponent.
Tewatia hadn’t regained his cool even after the match ended, as we saw him vehemently argue with David Warner over what had taken place. It took Khaleel himself to put an arm around Tewatia and have a word with him to calm things down. While it is good to see some fire, some passion among the Cricketers despite the lack of an electrifying atmosphere, there is no need to go overboard, especially after you’ve guided your team to a great win.
Parag’s Bihu dance to celebrate a welcome win for RR
We haven’t witnessed much representation of Northeast India in Indian Cricket or the IPL over the years. The emergence of Riyan Parag, picked by the Rajasthan Royals in 2018 following a U19 World Cup triumph has filled in the void of the same to a certain extent. To see an Assamese Cricketer win a game for his franchise, and then celebrate by doing the traditional Bihu dance, an integral part of Assamese culture, was a pleasant sight for a change from the usual hip-hop dancing routines performed by Cricketers while celebrating, something that Parag exhibited today after playing a defining knock and sealing the game with a six.