Sanju Samson outguns RCB’s batting might
Rajasthan Royals 217 for 4 (Samson 92, Rahane 36, Chahal 2-22) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 198 for 6 (Kohli 57, Mandeep 47*, Gopal 2-22) by 19 runs. Sanju Samson’s breath-taking 92 not out off 45 balls formed the centerpiece of Rajasthan Royals’ 217 for 4, a score that proved too much for Royal Challengers Bangalore’s formidable batting order even though Virat Kohli smashed his fastest IPL fifty. Notably, it was also the first time a team had successfully defended a total in 10 full games this season. Royals had done it once previously as well, in a rain-shortened game against Delhi Daredevils. On a familiar hit-through-the line Chinnaswamy pitch, Royals pillaged 88 runs in the last five overs of their innings – the joint second highest in the IPL. Samson’s contributed 58 to that tally. Kohli then matched Samson’s range in the chase, but a rapidly rising asking-rate caused Kohli, Brendon McCullum, Quinton de Kock, and AB de Villiers to hole out in the deep.
There were questions over Ajinkya Rahane’s role as an opener for Royals, and he answered them in emphatic fashion, hammering 36 off 20 balls at 180 – his second best strike-rate in the Powerplay in the IPL. That the ball came on to the bat nicely in Bengaluru made life easier for Rahane. He regularly manufactured swinging room outside leg and swatted the ball over the leg side. All told, he scored 33 of his 36 runs on the leg side. After Royals sprinted to 52 for the loss of Rahane in the Powerplay, Yuzvendra Chahal set them back by bowling legbreaks wide of off stump. The legspinner got one to drift away from D’Arcy Short and found the toe end in his second over, the seventh of the match. He then forced Ben Stokes to drag a wide delivery on to the stumps and became the leading wicket-taker for RCB with 73 wickets. Chahal finished with 2 for 22 in four overs, including 12 dots, when four of his team-mates conceded more than 11 runs an over.
At 15 overs, Royals were 129 for 3. The acceleration that followed was a volcanic eruption. The next five overs read: 13, 15, 16, 17, and 27. Samson’s innings wasn’t about slogging, but sublime timing. He lined up the length balls from Woakes, Umesh Yadav, and Kulwant Khejroliya, and struck five sixes in the ‘V’. The one that stood out was a lofted drive off an offcutter from Woakes in the 19th over. In all, Samson hit 10 sixes and two fours. Bengaluru boy K Gowtham struck in the first over of the chase to dismiss RCB’s McCullum, but Kohli and de Kock shaved 64 runs off the target in the first six overs. Kohli set the tone with three fours in four balls off Dhawal Kulkarni. He then greeted Stokes with a rasping pull and a sliced drive for four. De Kock, meanwhile, contributed 26 to a 77-run stand that came at 10.50 runs an over.
De Kock had been dropped on 23 by wicketkeeper Jos Buttler but he added only three runs before pulling a half-tracker from Short to deep square leg. The England wicketkeeper then reprieved AB de Villiers on 2 and 3 when he missed a stumping and a run-out. Those blunders did not cost Royals much. When Kohli pulled a long hop from Shreyas Gopal to deep square leg, RCB needed 117 off 58 balls. Two overs later, de Villiers holed out off a similar ball. Game over for RCB. The late blows from Mandeep Singh and Washington Sundar only reduced the margin of defeat.