Sanju Samson destroyed Royal Challengers Bangalore’s designs – in their designer greens to reaffirm their commitment to the environment – with an onslaught that left them scampering for cover as Rajasthan Royals secured a 19-run win in the 11th match of IPL 2018.
Rajasthan were put in to bat on a slightly green but dry surface at the M Chidambaram stadium on Sunday (April 15), and despite the sluggish start, they ended on a formidable 217 for 4, thanks as much to Samson’s 92 not out of just 45 – studded with 10 sixes and two fours – as to Bangalore bowlers’ shoddy effort in the death.
Bangalore overcame an early loss in their chase, but despite Virat Kohli’s sublime half-century and Mandeep Singh’s late flourish, they ended on 198 for 6.
Earlier, Ajinkya Rahane and D’Arcy Short didn’t find the middle of the bat against the new ball too often, but the Rajasthan captain still managed to add a few boundaries to his name. He began by pulling Chris Woakes towards the deep midwicket fence, a fiercely swept four to deep square leg and a lofted six over long on, came off Washington Sundar. He even peppered the deep-midwicket boundary in an over as Rajasthan added 43 in five overs. Short, who was run out in the last two games, was kept quiet for most part of their 49-run alliance.
Kohli rotated his bowlers in one-over spells initially, but found success when he brought Chris Woakes back from the pavilion end in the sixth over. Woakes found the right length with Rahane holing straight to mid-on. In the next over, Yuzvendra Chahal elicited a thick inside edge off Short that was brilliantly caught behind by Quinton de Kock as Rajasthan slipped to 53 for 2. That brought the pair of Ben Stokes and Samson together.
Samson was quick to adapt, favouring cuts and pulls more than glides and steers to counter the skiddy the surface. At the other end, Stokes had begun by struggling to time the ball, but eventually found the gaps and even smashed a six over fine leg off Khejroliya. Chahal finally broke the 49-run stand when Stokes dragged to the legspinner for a 21-ball 27.
Jos Buttler got off the mark with a reverse-swept four toward point, and was soon dropped off Pawan Negi, replacing Sarafaraz Khan in the XI, when Quinton de Kock failed to latch on to a thick edge. Buttler celebrated the reprieve by slamming a huge six off Woakes, but it was Samson who quickly raised his half-century off 34 balls with five sixes. The fourth-wicket pair was to realise 76 runs off just 36 deliveries, with Samson doing bulk of the scoring.
Woakes finally had his England teammate when Buttler failed to clear the mid-off to see Kohli take a brilliant catch. But the wicket had little effect on Samson, who struck two fours and a six to spoil Woakes’s figures as the allrounder ended with 2 for 47. Samson and Rahul Tripathi feasted on Umesh Yadav’s final over, also the last of the innings, collecting 27 runs, thanks to freebies and three sixes and a four. Samson remained unbeaten 92 as Rajasthan realised 88 runs in the last five overs.
To compete, Bangalore needed their top order to fire, and despite losing Brendon McCullum in the first over, Kohli and de Kock started the onslaught early. Kohli began by driving three fours off Dhawal Kulkarni and continued the brilliance against K Gowtham. De Kock wasn’t too far behind, hammering two fours off Gowtham to offset early wicket.
The duo accumulated 77 runs from 44 balls before de Kock, who was dropped on 24, failed to make the most of the reprieve as he pulled a Short delivery to Jaydev Unadkat. Kohli brought up his half-century – his fastest in IPL – off 26 balls, and looked set for a long haul along with AB de Villiers. But Shreyas Gopal put paid to Bangalore’s revival chance by sending back Kohli for 57.
It was going to be down to de Villiers’s undeniable genius and Mandeep’s growing stature in reading the situations. Buttler missed stumping de Villiers while on two, but Shreyas (2 for 22) ensured Rajasthan didn’t have to pay a huge price for the lapse. A mistimed pull off de Villiers found Unadkat at third-man boundary to silence the capacity crowd.
Negi’s stay at the crease was brief, and Mandeep and Washington did their bit to reduce the deficit. The duo targeted Unadkat and Stokes off whom they hammered two sixes and three fours, during their 56-run sixth-wicket stand, but the writing was on the wall. Washington was bowled by Stokes in the penultimate over, and with 36 needed off the last over, Mandeep and Woakes just reduced the margin of defeat.