Rajasthan Royals proved that their defeat to Royal Challengers Bangalore last week was just a blip in what has otherwise been a terrific start to their IPL 2022 campaign. Sanju Samson’s men outclassed Lucknow Super Giants by 3 runs in a last-over thriller, ending a 3-match winning run for KL Rahul’s side.
As many as 5 teams are tied on 6 points after 4 matches each but the Royals moved from No. 5 to No. 1 due to a superior Net Run Rate.
Rajasthan Royals proved they can notch up points even if their star batters Jos Buttler and Sanju Samson have off-days as they rode on a team effort to outclass Lucknow.
Riding on a stunning counter-attacking blitz from Shimron Hetmyer and Yuzvendra Chahal’s 4-wicket haul, Rajasthan Royals came up with a tactical masterclass to outshine the Lucknow franchise.
Chahal became only the 6th bowler to complete 150 wickets in the IPL as the leg-spinner continued to impress for his new franchise.
After Trent Boult gave Rajasthan the best possible start with the ball to dismiss captain KL Rahul (first-ball 0) and Krishnappa Gowtham (0), Prasidh Krishna removed Jason Holder who was sent in at No. 4.
However, Quinton de Kock and Deepak Hooda stitched a 48-run stand even as the asking rate shot up. Young Kuldeep Sen got the breakthrough, sending back Hooda after which Ayush Badoni failed.
Krunal Pandya hit a quickfire 22 but Yuzvendra Chahal removed the left-hander and de Kock in the same over, pegging back Lucknow.
However, Marcus Stoinis, playing his first game for Lucknow, went on a six-hitting spree, smashing 38 from just 17 balls but he was not able to get Lucknow past the finish line as Kuldeep repaid the trust shown in him by the Royals, defending 15 runs in the final over.
Hetmyer, having coloured his hair in pink, stepped up for the Royals, hitting a 36-ball 59 which had 6 sixes and helping the Royals post a par total of 165 at the Wankhede Stadium. Hetmyer stitched a 68-run stand for the 5th wicket with R Ashwin who became the first batter to be retired out in the IPL.
Hetmyer and Ashwin steadied the ship after RR lost Sanju Samson, newbie Rassie van der Dussen and opener Devdutt Padikkal in quick succession. RR had slipped from 60/1 to 67/4 as they were scoring at a little over a run-a-ball at the end of the 10th over.
ASHWIN RETIRED OUT
Ashwin was only the 4th batter in the history of T20 cricket to be retired out as Rajasthan flaunted their tactical accumbent using the rarely used option in the 19th over of the innings.
“I had no idea about it (Ashwin’s retired out decision). He was also a bit tired. It was a good decision, as the kid (Parag) hit a six for us. We are in with a good chance,” Hetmyer told the broadcasters.
Hetmyer took his time before launching an incredible assault, helping RR collect 98 runs in the last 10 overs. After Ashwin, who hit 28 off 23 balls, was retired out, Riyan Parag walked in and played a cameo of 8, which included a six.
Earlier in the day, Delhi Capitals snapped their 2-match losing streak to outclass Kolkata Knight Riders by 44 runs. Riding on Prithvi Shaw and David Warner’s fifties and a 4-wicket haul from former KKR man Kuldeep Yadav, DC outclassed Shreyas Iyer’s men.
HOW’S THE JOSH?
Following the memorable victory, Delhi Capitals players huddled up at their dressing room at the Brabourne Stadium. Opener Warner, who had joined the team in 2022 after a horror season with SunRisers Hyderabad, led the dressing room celebration that was charged up.
Delhi Capitals posted a short clip of their team celebrating in the dressing room, with the opener asking the team “How’s the Josh” and the team replying “High sir”, imitating the iconic scene from the Bollywood movie Uri.
Kuldeep Yadav finished with figures of 4/35, including 3 wickets in an over, as he plotted the downfall of his former franchise KKR wherein his career went downhill.
KKR never got going in their mammoth chase as Ajinkya Rahane failed to give them the much-needed momentum at the top, falling to Khaleel for 8 from 14 balls.
KULDEEP OUTSMARTS SHREYAS
Captain Shreyas Iyer ended his 12-innings wait for a fifty in the IPL, smashing 54 from just 33 balls in a 69-run stand with Nitish Rana. Only during this partnership, KKR lookeed like they would be able to get close to the target. However, Kuldeep Yadav and Lalit Yadav sent back the two set batters with the left-arm wrist spinner ending Iyer’s knock as he was stumped.
Andre Russell struggled to get going even as he was losing partners.. Khaleel picked up his 3rd wicket, ending Sam Billings’ quick cameo.
Pat Cummins, who began his IPL 2022 stint with a record-equlling fifty against Mumbai Indians, began his innings with a boundary but he was undone by Kuldeep’s magic.