Cricket matches at Sharjah Cricket Association have always been special. With the short boundaries and a batting friendly wicket, this match was expected to be a high scoring one. And it was! Rajasthan Royals, who won the first encounter against CSK by posting 216, again won the contest, this time against Kings XI Punjab by chasing a target of 224 runs. Not only that, this was the highest successful run-chase by any team in the history of the IPL.
Result: Rajasthan Royals won by 4 wickets – Match Scorecard
KXIP: KL Rahul (8/10), Mayank Agarwal (10/10), Glenn Maxwell (5/10), Nicholas Pooran (8.5/10), Karun Nair (-), Jimmy Neesham (4/10), Sarfaraz Khan (4/10), Mohammad Shami (5/10), Sheldon Cottrell (3/10), Murugan Ashwin (4/10), Ravi Bishnoi (2/10)
RR: Jos Buttler (2/10), Steve Smith (9/10), Sanju Samson (10/10), Rahul Tewatia (9.5/10), Robin Uthappa (4/10), Jofra Archer (7/10), Riyan Parag (1/10), Tom Curran (5/10), Shreyas Gopal (2/10), Ankit Rajpoot (4/10), Jaydev Unadkat (1/10).
Talking Points from the Match:
A correct call by Steve Smith to field first:
Rajasthan Royals’ skipper Steve Smith decided to field first due to dew factor, which will not help bowlers in the 2nd innings. While this decision didn’t seem sensible when KXIP was batting and in the middle of RR’s batting, what a decision this turned out to be!
A Standalone 183-run Partnership between the KXIP openers, KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal:
Fours and sixes were raining from the duo of Rahul and Agarwal, and managed to put up a 50+ run partnership in second consecutive match. This was the best and highest partnership between two Indian cricketers in the history of IPL; a partnership of 183 runs off just 99 balls, with Agarwal scoring 106 runs off just 50 balls with 10 fours and 7 sixes.
The openers shine again (Image Source: kxipofficial | Instagram)
KL Rahul scored a composed 69 runs off 54 balls, but he can be partially blamed for the loss since he slowed down once he crossed the coveted fifty-run mark.
Rajasthan Royals’ Bowling and Fielding woes Continue:
Rajasthan Royals’ bowling woes continue. A couple of catches dropped by RR players from Agarwal helped them post a 200+ target on a flat track. Their fast bowlers, particularly Jaydev Unadkat and Jofra Archer didn’t perform well and spinners Rahul Tewatia and Shreyas Gopal failed to take up a wicket.
Late Finishing Touch from Nicholas Pooran:
Nicholas Pooran finally started to show his strength for KXIP this season by hitting 25* runs off just 8 balls with 1 four and 3 towering sixes. A four and 2 of those sixes came in the last over bowled by Jofra Archer and propelled Kings XI Punjab to 223 runs.
Pooran’s finishing touch (Image Source: kxipofficial | Instagram)
Game-em for Steve Smith and Sanju Samson:
With Jos Buttler coming up to keep wickets and replace Yashaswi Jaiswal at the top, he scored 4 runs before he got dismissed by Sheldon Cottrell.
Steve Smith opened once more after success in his first competitive match as an opener and was successful again by scoring 50 runs off just 27 balls with 7 fours and 2 sixes. Samson and Smith stitched a 2nd wicket partnership of 81 runs off just 40 balls, before Smith holed out to deep cover region.
Sanju strikes again (Image Source: rajasthanroyals | Instagram)
Sanju Samson was attacking the KXIP bowlers mercilessly, launching sixes towards the long-on region and extra cover repeatedly with ease. He even launched 3 sixes in a Maxwell over (16th over) to bring down the equation to 63 runs in 24 balls. Samson finally got dismissed for 85 runs off just 42 balls, with 4 fours and 7 sixes in the 17th over.
KXIP Death-Bowling Woes and Tewatia’s Master-Stroke with the Bat:
The 18th over was a nightmare for KXIP bowler Sheldon Cottrell, who was smashed by Indian domestic cricketer Rahul Tewatia for 30 runs which included 5 sixes. At one time, till the end of 17th over, Tewatia was batting on 14 runs off 21 balls with a solitary six. There were talks by the commentators to throw the wicket voluntarily by him.
But he was the man who changed the fortunes of KXIP by hitting 5 sixes in a Cottrell over and bring down the equation of 51 off 18 balls to 21 off 12 balls. Cottrell couldn’t control his line and length and was severely taken down by Tewatia over mid-wicket region, fine-leg region, and mid-off region.
Tewatia hits a six (Image Source: rajasthanroyals | Instagram)
Tewatia hit another six before holing out for an enterprising 53 off 31 balls with 7 sixes.
He even later admitted that the first 20 balls he faced in this innings were the worst he couldn’t figure it out in the whole career played till now.
What a save!:
Have you ever thought that a fielder saving a six would break the internet? Pooran who earlier seemed to have struck the right note with the bat pulled off a sensational save to stop a six.
It was so good that Kevin Pietersen said, “That’s the best I have seen in a T20 game!” on air. KXIP’s fielding coach Jonty Rhodes took a bow for Pooran’s efforts and even MCC retweeted it. Even the Master Blaster went gaga over it.
Jofra Steps up as a Batsman, again:
With Jofra scoring an important 27* off 8 balls against CSK batting at No.8, there was promotion for him at No.6. He handsomely took over Mohammad Shami for two consecutive sixes and remained not out on 13 off 3 balls.
Jofra hit the final blows for RR (Image Source: rajasthanroyals | Instagram)
Murugan Ashwin Sparsely used by KL Rahul:
M. Ashwin went for 12 runs in his first over, and he was only called in the last over. He took the wicket of Riyan Parag but couldn’t save KXIP from a defeat.
Questions to answer:
- Should RR replace Shreyas Gopal with Mayank Markande, given the former’s poor form with the ball?
- How should KXIP address the death-bowling issues?
Featured Image: rajasthanroyals | Instagram
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