Shreyas Gopal and Jos Buttler hand RCB fourth straight defeat
Rajasthan Royals 164 for 3 (Buttler 59, Smith 38, Chahal 2-17) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 158 for 4 (Parthiv 67, Stoinis 31*, Gopal 3-12) by seven wickets. A superb spell by legspinner Shreyas Gopal spearheaded Rajasthan Royals to their first win in this season’s IPL, by seven wickets over the increasingly beleaguered Royal Challengers Bangalore. Gopal finished with 3 for 12, taking the wickets of Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Shimron Hetmyer to slow down the visitors, who eventually finished on an underwhelming 158 for four.
Royals, riding on four dropped chances, hardly let the foot off the gas, starting their chase quickly before Jos Buttler, Steven Smith and Rahul Tripathi, who finished on an unbeaten 34, took them to the target with a ball to spare. It was a more convincing win than that margin would suggest. Royal Challengers were off to a proper start this time, with both Kohli and Parthiv Patel finding the boundaries in their strong areas. But just after they had owned the Powerplay, ending it 48 for no loss, Gopal got into the thick of things. His googly burst through Kohli’s attempted cover drive, giving the Royals their first big breakthrough.
Gopal’s follow-up in his next two overs further punctured Royal Challengers’ momentum. He had de Villiers caught and bowled – it was the third time he had dismissed him in as many meetings – off another googly, this one stopping on the batsman. Hetmyer edged a slider behind in the 11th over, and by the end of his dream spell Gopal had given away just 12 runs in his four overs; it was as valuable as a T20 century. Parthiv had only faced 18 balls – out of 61 in Royal Challengers’ innings – by the time Hetmyer was dismissed and had moved to 33. He took stock of the situation and slowly got the Royal Challengers back on track.
He didn’t hit a lot of boundaries during this time, apart from a swivel-pull for six off Ben Stokes and three fours, but held Royal Challengers together in a 53-run fourth-wicket stand with Marcus Stoinis. He went on to reach his 12th fifty in the IPL, and his first this season. The innings set Royal Challengers up for a strong finish, as Moeen Ali and Stoinis knocked off 32 runs in the 2.4 overs that remained after his dismissal.
When he was on 1, Virat Kohli dropped Ajinkya Rahane at slip off a zippy delivery in the corridor from Navdeep Saini. Rahane never looked back as he and Buttler rattled off 55 in the Powerplay, with Buttler pasting Saini for two fours immediately after the dropped catch. Rahane didn’t spare Umesh Yadav’s waywardness with two fours in the third over before Buttler repeated the dose in Saini’s next over. Rahane went after Saini next with two fours in the sixth over, before falling to a Yuzvendra Chahal googly in the eighth.
The rest of the chase fell on Buttler, Steven Smith and Rahul Tripathi. By the time Buttler was out for a 41-ball 59, he had struck eight fours and a six off Moeen. Smith, who was dropped on 23 by Umesh on the cover boundary, didn’t slow down as he cross-batted Mohammed Siraj over midwicket for his first six. Smith’s dismissal in the penultimate over – he holed out to long-on with Royals needing five off seven balls – was a little unnecessary, as he had made 38 and could have seen through the chase, but Tripathi ensured there was no drama in the end, as he calmly pulled Umesh over square leg for six to give his side their first points of the season.