With Jos Buttler, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson, Shimron Heymyer, Trent Boult, Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravichandran Ashwin in their ranks, Rajasthan Royals really should not have been struggling to find a place in the IPL playoffs. But as it stands out after their 14 league matches, they need massive favours from other teams to qualify. 7 wins and as many losses after the league stage have left last year’s runner-ups at the mercy of others, Royal Challengers Bangalore to be precise. RR will only qualify for the playoffs if RCB lose their final league match by five or more runs.
RR captain Sanju Samson, therefore, did not shy away from pointing out the flaw in their performance this year. Samson was “shocked to see” RR stand in fifth position in the points table. “We have a quality team and it is a little shocking to see where we stand on the table,” Samson said after RR beat PBKS by four wickets to stay alive in IPL 2023.
“I think at the end of the game, when Hety (Hetmyer) was going strong we thought we will finish by 18.5 overs (RR had to finish the run-chase in 18.3 overs to overtake RCB in terms of net run rate). I have been talking about (Yashasvi) Jasiwal almost every game. He has shown maturity. It feels like he has played 100 T20Is. Almost 90 per cent of the time we feel Boult will take a wicket in the first over. We were under pressure in the last few games,” said Samson in a post-match presentation.
After being put to bat first by RR, PBKS scored 187/5 in their 20 overs. They struggled against RR bowlers initially, losing their four wickets for just 50 runs in 6.3 overs. Then Jitesh Sharma (44 in 28 balls, with three fours and three sixes) and Sam Curran stitched a 64-run stand for the fifth wicket to bring PBKS back into the game. Then in death overs, Curran (49* in 31 balls, with four boundaries and two sixes) and Shahrukh Khan (41* in 23 balls, four boundaries and two sixes) joined forces to up the run rate, taking PBKS to a competitive total. They scored 46 runs in the final two overs.
Navdeep Saini (3/40) was the pick of the bowlers for RR. Trent Boult and Adam Zampa took a wicket each.
In the chase of 188, RR lost Jos Buttler early for a duck, his fifth this season. Then Yashasvi Jaiswal (50 in 36 balls, with eight fours) and Devdutt Padikkal (51 in 30 balls, with four boundaries and three sixes) stitched a 73-run stand for the second wicket, helping RR fight back. Later on, cameos from Shimron Hetmyer (46 in 28 balls, four boundaries and three sixes), Riyan Parag (20 in 12 balls, with one four and two sixes) and Dhruv Jurel (10* in four balls) helped RR clinch a last-over thriller win by four wickets.
Kagiso Rabada (2/40) was the pick of the bowlers for PBKS. Sam Curran, Nathan Ellis, Deepak Chahar and Arshdeep Singh took a wicket each.
Padikkal got the ‘Player of the Match’ award for his fifty.