The Royals just about managed to keep themselves afloat in the tournament with this win. A rejigged side managed to cross the finishing line and did not let a Buttler-sized hole affect their performance. Steve Smith & Riyan Parag stood up with the bat while Archer and Shreyas Gopal continued to impress with the ball.
Captaining instead of Rahane, Steve Smith chose to bowl as he was not certain about how the pitch would behave. Shreyas Gopal accounted for Rohit Sharma in the 3rd over before Dhawal Kulkarni was taken for 19 runs in the 4th over. By the end of the 12th over, Steve Smith had used 6 different bowlers without even using Stokes’ services. Though RR’s bowlers had taken just one wicket, they had not let the MI batsmen run away with the game. The scoreboard stood at 102/1 after 13 overs. While Unadkat leaked runs in the death overs, Archer kept things tight at the other end to restrict MI to a score of 161.
Rahane once again failed to give an account of himself, falling early in the 4th over. Samson, who was opening instead of Buttler scored a brisk 35 to keep RR ahead in the game. Stokes looked out of sorts after missing a game and fell for a second ball duck. The platform for RR’s victory was laid by the skipper Smith & Riyan Parag who showed a lot of promise before getting run out for a well-made 43. A couple of quick wickets towards the end did spice things up but Smith held on to one end to take RR to their third win of the season.
RR became only the second team after CSK to beat MI in four consecutive games. Shreyas Gopal once again was the pick of the bowlers for RR with figures of 4-0-21-2. He found support in equal measures from both Archer and Binny who varied their pace to suit the two-paced pitch. Steve Smith shepherded the innings with a match-winning 59*(48) forging partnerships with both Samson & Parag.
Mumbai Indians have been following a blueprint - a De Kock led strong start, followed by a few quick wickets and then depend on the firepower of Hardik & Pollard to help reach a respectable score. But the law of averages finally caught up with MI who had been making luck escapes.
After being put in to bat first, MI lost Rohit once again early to spin. De Kock continued with his good form and showed his timing when he struck a hat-trick of fours & a maximum of Kulkarni's four successive deliveries in the fourth over. However, it was Surya Kumar Yadav's crawl to 34(33) which ended up hurting Mumbai a lot. At 112/3 after 15, MI must have been hoping once again for any of Hardik or Pollard to come good and take them to 180, but it was not to be. None of them could unleash their might in Jaipur and MI had to be content with a par score of 161.
The Pandya bowlers opened for MI with the ball and had to bear the brunt of Samson’s blade who carved five boundaries of the first seven deliveries that he faced. It was Rahul Chahar who managed to bring the game back to the balance when he accounted for both Samson & Stokes in the 8th over, However, Rohit missed a trick by saving Bumrah & Malinga for the last overs. The game was almost lost when they came back with RR requiring just 25 of the last four overs.
With this defeat, it’s been seven years since MI last won a match in Jaipur. De Kock once again top-scored for MI with a well-paced 65(47). While Rahul Chahar used his guile to end up with figures of 4-0-29-3. MI though continues to be at the second position, it missed a golden opportunity to topple CSK from the peak.
The Royals will next host DC before traveling to Kolkata. They have to win every match from here to have any chance of qualifying for the playoffs. A change in captain did change their fortunes but soon the Englishmen will leave for national duty and that will only compound their problems. It’s high time that Rahane ups his game as there were murmurs of him being dropped from the side to make way for Tripathi.
The Mumbai Indians will next travel to Chennai in what could be a dress rehearsal for the knock-outs. Rohit has just not been able to find his groove this season and that should be a concern for MI as they enter the business end of the tournament.
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