Ajinkya Rahane-led Rajasthan Royals came to Wankhede looking for some inspiration to get their derailed campaign back on track. The fortune favoured them when they won the toss and made the right decision of electing to field first.
The first 10 overs belonged to the home side when both Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock went berserk scoring 92 runs without being separated. Searching for their first wicket, Rahane threw the ball to his best bet - Jofra Archer who repaid the faith by dismissing Rohit Sharma for 47.
The dismissal proved to be a comeback moment for the visitors. Suryakumar Yadav and Kieron Pollard failed to keep up with the run-rate giving Rajasthan a sniff in the game. Gopal, Unadkat, Archer and Kulkarni bowled with decent control and none of the upcoming batsmen were able to put pressure on the bowlers until Hardik Pandya walked to the crease in the 17th over.
Pandya scored at a strike-rate of 254 but only 11 balls in the innings meant he had very little time to create a big impact in the game. De Kock scored a breezy 81 from 52 balls but it was not enough to keep up with what is generally required at the back end of an innings at the Wankhede.
As a result, Mumbai settled had to settle for only 187 on the board, way below-par for a Wankhede track, especially after being 92/0 at the half-way mark in the innings. Moreover, the momentum had shifted to Rajasthan Royals who would have known they are well in the game, given that 198 was chased by Mumbai 2 nights ago at the same venue.
After a job well done with the ball, Rahane and Buttler ensured that they don’t lose the advantage with the bat. While Buttler took his time to get going, Rahane seemed at his best scoring 37 runs at a strike rate of 176 - his best in the tournament so far for a score of 30 or more.
Rahane was out soon after the culmination of the powerplays but there was no respite for the Mumbai bowlers as Buttler decided to switch on his beast mode. Generally, a slow striker against spinners (a S/R of 131 against spinners as compared to 160 against pacers prior to this game in IPL), Buttler took a liking to the slow bowlers. Facing 19 balls from Rahul Chahar and Krunal Pandya, the wicketkeeper-batsman took them for 33 runs including 2 sixes against each of them.
If Mumbai scored at a run rate of 8.33 in the middle overs, Buttler’s presence allowed Rajasthan to accumulate runs at 10.3 rune per over in the same phase. Rohit Sharma introduced Alzarri Joseph back to the attack hoping for a wicket but instead saw Buttler bludgeon him for 28 runs in the over with 2 sixes and 4 fours.
It seemed like that over would seal the game for Rajasthan but victories have not come easy for them. Buttler departed for 89 from 43 balls and Steve Smith’s continued struggle with the bat gave Mumbai an opportunity to fight back.
Krunal Pandya’s twin strikes in the 18th over gave an impression that the Royals will bottle it again but a cool and calm Shreyas Gopal, this time with the bat ensured that Rajasthan cross the line in the last over without any further drama.
As discussed earlier, Mumbai lost all the momentum in their innings after Rohit Sharma’s dismissal allowing the Royals to be back in the game. But Hardik Pandya’s consistent hitting in the death overs that saw him collecting 10 runs from the last 4 balls of the last over - overall 16 from the over rose Mumbai chances of victory from 68 to 77%.
Buttler’s dominance over the Mumbai spinners kept the home side on the backfoot but it was savage hitting against Alzarri Joseph - 28 runs from the 13th over - that saw Rajasthan’s chances rise up to 92% (escalated by 21% after the over), their highest in the game.
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