SRH’s 171 on the same ground should’ve been indication enough for the Rajasthan Royals that it wasn’t a winning total. Yet, that is what the Mumbai Indians restricted them to, falling short of a good 20-25 runs, as acknowledged by RR skipper Sanju Samson.
After starting with their first powerplay without losing any wickets in 21 matches, what went wrong for the RR? Jos Buttler and Yashaswi Jaiswal had a field day with the Mumbai bowlers, taking them to the cleaners in the powerplay. With boundaries raining every over and a score of 47, the openers looked comfortably settled.
But maybe a little too comfortable. Right after slogging Rahul Chahar for a maximum, Buttler was stumped out effortlessly by De Kock off his next much slower delivery. That’s not to take away from Buttler’s commendable 41 off 32 balls, giving RR the explosive start they needed.
Samson continued to fuel the momentum, and with him and Jaiswal firing off from both ends, Rajasthan looked on course to post a massive target. But then came the critical wicket, which changed the course of the match significantly. Chahar picked the catch of Jaiswal off his own bowling, the wicket coming within just two overs of Buttler’s. Jaiswal departed for a well-made 32 off 20 deliveries.
In hindsight, the Rajasthan Royals would probably berate themselves for not sending in their star player, David Miller, next. As it happened, Shivam Dube’s arrival was greeted with six dot deliveries faced by him. At 91-2 at the halfway mark, RR was easily staring at a total nearing 200.
Dube did manage to find a few boundaries during his innings, but his knock of 35 off 31 balls undoubtedly dragged down RR’s hurtling momentum. On any other day, Dube’s innings would be considered par, but Rajasthan needed more than par after losing three of their five games. It might seem harsh to pin a team’s failure on a single individual who didn’t even perform poorly in objective terms.
But, on a side where the other batsmen fire at strike rates of close to 160, 113 pales in comparison. The management is as much to blame to hold back Miller to face only four deliveries at the fag-end of the innings. Of course, none of this takes away from MI’s excellent bowling effort to arrest the run-flow to only 45 runs in the last five overs. In the end, RR simply couldn’t manage to ride home on Samson’s 42.
Mumbai’s first run-chase was led in style by Quinton De Kock, who finally hit the ground running after his struggle this season. The MI captain, Rohit Sharma, struggled to find his footing throughout the powerplay before finally succumbing to Chris Morris, departing for a scratchy 14 off 17 balls. But that’s the beauty of the Mumbai batting line-up. Even if one or two players fail to fire off, three more should shoulder that responsibility. And that’s precisely what the Mumbai Indians did. De Kock wasn’t left alone to bear the burden of carrying the team to victory.
Suryakumar Yadav and Kieron Pollard’s rapid 16s took the weight of big-hitting off De Kock’s shoulders. RR thought they could take a breather after dismissing the dangerman Yadav, but their opponents had more in their arsenal. Mumbai’s middle-order finally clicked into place this match after Krunal Pandya was promoted up the order in Ishan Kishan’s absence.
The older Pandya played a responsible knock of 39 off 26 balls before being bowled clean by Mustafizur Rahman. But it was too little, too late. Mumbai had all but tasted victory. De Kock finished the innings unbeaten at 70 off 50 balls, sealing their win definitively with nine balls to spare.
The Rajasthan Royals made a valiant bowling effort, but unfortunately, 172 was a cakewalk for the Mumbai Indians without picking up wickets up-front. It’s quite evident that Rajasthan is keenly feeling the blow of not having their leading wicket-taker this season, Jofra Archer. But the team absolutely has to rethink their decision-making in terms of their batting line-up and perhaps train their bowlers better to defend their totals.
This Delhi wicket is definitely a breath of fresh air for Mumbai, who visibly struggled to adjust to the Chennai pitches. Rohit Sharma says, “Playing the conditions well is important, we didn’t adapt well in Chennai, but we knew once that leg ended, we were going to play on good pitches (in Delhi). We needed this win badly after a couple of losses, we did pretty much everything right, from ball one, very clinical towards the end as well.”
He also states, “This is something that was required, we took the responsibility, good to see a complete team effort. The bowlers did the job for us, came back pretty well in the death overs, giving 50 odd runs with 7 wickets in hand was a great effort.”