Nobody gave them a chance going into the final league game after Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes left for England. But the Rajasthan Royals (RR) managed to punch above their weight against the star-studded Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and kept their hopes alive with a resounding 30-run win. The loss ended the season
for the visitors as they sensationally collapsed after being well placed in the chase of 165 runs at 75/1. However, the Royals will now need other results to go their way in order to qualify for the playoffs.
After winning the toss, Ajinkya Rahane opted to bat first and the opener Rahul Tripathi batted magnificently. he attacked the bowlers in the powerplay despite losing his partner Jofra Archer early.
Then Rahane came in and both added 99 runs for the second wicket before Umesh Yadav struck a double blow for them.
The skipper and Sanju Samson were dismissed off the back-to-back deliveries. However, Heinrich Klaasen batted well along with Tripathi who was going strong from the word go.
While Klaasen scored 32 off just 21 balls, Krishnappa Gowtham also made his presence felt with the bat to smash 14 runs off just 5 deliveries.
Though the best batsman was Tripathi for them who played like Buttler and remained unbeaten on 80 off 58 balls to propel the Royals to a brilliant total of 164 runs after 20 overs.
The chase began in the worst possible manner for the RCB as their captain Virat Kohli was castled by Gowtham. But AB de Villiers looked a class apart again and smashed a half-century.
Parthiv Patel supported him well and scored 33 only for the others to capitulate haplessly in front of Shreyas Gopal.
It was an abject performance by the middle order yet again as they collapsed from being 75/1 to 134/10. Gopal registered his best figures of 4/16 and snatched a victory for his side.
Man of the Match, Shreyas Gopal said:
Obviously feels great. We knew this game was a pressure game for us. Actually both the teams. It feels even better that the team needed me and I performed. I would not have been feeling half as better had the team lost.
You can never have a set plan for someone like ABD. So, I was a bit shocked. There was a little bit of help from the wicket. There was a little bit of spin.
I kept it at the wickets and relied on my googly and flipper as much as I could.
We are like brothers now (when asked about Ish Sodhi). I keep picking his brains. He is wonderful with the way he puts in an effort with every ball that he bowls. There are a lot of things that I can learn from him.
Rajasthan Royals captain, Ajinkya Rahane said:
Definitely much needed victory for us. We knew that 160 would be very difficult on this wicket. Though RCB had a very good batting line up. Credit goes to our bowlers.
Under pressure, the two leggies did really well. Getting wickets in the middle overs was never easy. I think the intent was to go positive from the start. We felt Jofra at the top of the order could give us a positive start and our batting order would have looked deeper.
It was important to play good cricket. This evening was very special. It was more about focusssing on the things that we could control. Klaasen’s innings was really good and Rahul’s innings at the top was magnificent. It is important to enjoy this win and stay calm.
Royal Challengers Bangalore captain, Virat Kohli said:
Yeah, it was a strange one. We were in a great position. 75/1, and the way we were bundled out wasn’t ideal. Someone like AB who can hit fours and sixes was knocking it around so the others didn’t support him and apply themselves properly.
We needed more smart decision-making there. These things should be repeated by 5-6 guys in a row. We wanted to strengthen the middle-order which hasn’t happened, it hasn’t been our strength and we need to do that going into the next few seasons.
We need to be smarter with composing our team. The responsibility cannot be taken up only by AB all the time. He certainly scored runs, but others need to contribute around him, and didn’t show enough composure. There were some new players who did well.
Umesh bowled extremely well with the new ball, Chahal was great, Siraj and Moeen contributed too, so plenty of positives to take into the next season. However, after cruising at 75/1 it was disappointing that we couldn’t finish it off well. I would like to wish all the other teams the best of luck for the remainder of the competition.