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Pleased with how Stokes and Sanju closed the game out for RR last night: Steven Smith


Rajasthan Royals (RR) skipper Steven Smith was all-praises of the 152-run partnership Ben Stokes and Sanju Samson put together to ensure that RR get to the steep target of 196 set by the Mumbai Indians (MI) in last night’s IPL match.

Commenting on how they kept up with the required rate by playing risk-free Cricket, Smith said, “When you’re chasing 195, you can’t be having too many overs where you don’t score too many runs. So you have to keep adding intent. Maybe even against bowlers like Bumrah who we know how good he is, you still have to score off him, so we were able to play with such freedom.

“I thought Stokes and Sanju did that beautifully tonight. I went out there at the time-out, I think we needed 12 an over, I think they brought it down 10 or just under 10, and they said they haven’t even taken a risk, they were just playing really good cricket shots, really pleased with the way they closed the game out.”

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Smith, though, was critical of the fielding display by his side and was displeased with the RR’s bowling at the death. MI, thanks to a whirlwind 21-ball 60 from Hardik Pandya, smashed 57 off the last three overs. 

Smith said, “We were a bit disappointed with our bowling, we dropped another catch, our fielding hasn’t been as good as we would have liked, that dropped catch was perhaps 45 runs swing in the end. I thought our bowlers did a really good job through the middle, we were taking wickets, obviously, after that dropped catch, Hardik just went berserk, it wasn’t an ideal finish.”


Ben Stokes and Sanju Samson put on 152 for the 2nd wicket to guide RR to victory

Hardik Pandya commended the 3rd wicket partnership between Stokes and Samson as well, admitting that one needs to give credit to the opposition as well at times. He said in the post-match press conference, “Sometimes, you have to give credit to the opposition as well. I feel that they really batted well, bowlers didn’t have much to do, it was their skills that worked for them. I think they took their chances and I think even luck was on their side, multiple inside and outside edges which went to the boundary, having said that they still played some outstanding shots, I don’t think our bowlers had much options.”

Talking about his own batting performance, Hardik said, “Obviously, hitting sixes was fun and I enjoyed. I thought we got enough runs, initially, when the second strategic time-out happened we were looking more at 165-170. Obviously, we got 25 runs more which I thought was enough but credit goes to Stokes and Sanju, they really batted well.”

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Stokes, who anchored the chase with an unbeaten hundred, his 2nd in the IPL, told IPLT20.com, “Outside noise can affect people in different ways, when I was younger it affected me, it took me a while to understand that outside noise doesn’t matter to me anymore, it is within the team or people who have an influence on you, on your career. I have got backing from everyone at the franchise, I know I haven’t delivered to the expectations of that but having that backing from the people that mattered in the franchise is really the thing that I sort of pride everything on.”

Sanju Samson, who played a key role in providing Stokes adequate company in the partnership for the 3rd wicket, said the following after the game, “I kept on believing in myself. When you play 14 games, you’ll have to go through ups and downs. I worked a bit on my game plan. On bigger grounds, on different wickets, you need to take more time, play more cricketing shots, that was the difference I made today.”

On the mammoth 2nd wicket partnership, Samson said, “It was amazing (batting with Stokes). We have spent a good time out in the middle in the last three games, this was the best time with him, really enjoyed it.

“I was not looking at how many runs do we want or what the run-rate was. I was just reacting to the ball, my game plan is very simple, I just watch the ball and hit it if it is there. If not, I take singles and doubles. I just kept it simple and finished it off. Have seen some funny games in the past in IPL where matches have gone here and there.”