Rajasthan Royals squandered an opportunity to break into the Top 4 as the Sanju Samson-led side slumped to a seven-wicket defeat at the hands of Sunrisers Hyderabad in Dubai.
Winning the toss and batting first, the Royals, courtesy a fine 82 from Samson, posted 164, which turned out to be a below-par total on a fantastic Dubai wicket. The target was eventually chased down with ease by SRH, who were driven over the line by debutant Jason Roy and skipper Kane Williamson.
Yashasvi Jaiswal shines to make up for the early loss of Evin Lewis
Prior to today, in just a handful of appearances this season, Yashasvi Jaiswal had shown that he had evolved as a T20 batsman. Once again today, in the clash against SRH, the youngster left a telling impression. Rajasthan lost Evin Lewis early, in just the second over, but despite the early setback, Jaiswal took it upon himself to be the aggressor.
He gave the charge to the quicker bowlers, showed plenty of intent and also manipulated the field effectively by using the cut and the pull. Such was the positivity he showed with the bat up-front that he ended the powerplay with a SR of 150.
But just as he was looking on course to put up a big score, Jaiswal perished prematurely, for 36. The southpaw danced down the track and tried to clobber Sandeep Sharma, but ended up playing a full-toss back onto his stumps.
Throwing away starts has been a pattern of sorts for Jaiswal this season - today was the fourth instance this season of the 19-year-old getting dismissed between a score of 20 and 50 - but despite leaving a lot of runs behind, the youngster ensured that he set an excellent platform for the middle-order.
Sanju Samson proves to be Royals’ lone warrior
Not for the first time this season, Sanju Samson waged a lone battle with the bat for the Royals. Against the Delhi Capitals it was the skipper who was the only RR batsman to score over 20, and today, yet again, it was Samson who dragged the Royals to a par total.
Liam Livingstone endured his third straight failure of the season as he perished for 4, trying to smash Rashid Khan out of the ground, while Mahipal Lomror, despite hanging in, was not able to switch gears and take the hitting burden off Samson.
Lomror, after the dismissal of Livingstone, did well to stitch a 77-run stand with the skipper, but found no rhythm whatsoever. He faced 28 balls, and bizarrely ended the innings unbeaten on 29 on what was a pretty good batting wicket.
Samson, on the other hand, did all the heavy-lifting and scored 50% of the team’s runs on the day to finish on 82 and take the Royals to 164. In the process, he also became the orange-cap holder.
From an SRH perspective, it was a particularly encouraging performance from Bhuvneshwar Kumar who, after getting pasted at the death in the previous game against Punjab, bowled a tight penultimate over that cost just 7. Earlier in the day, Bhuvneshwar had also begun his spell with a wicket-maiden, dismissing Evin Lewis off his very first ball.
Jason Roy does Jason Roy things on SRH debut
At the expense of David Warner, Jason Roy made his much-anticipated SRH debut today, and the England opener did not disappoint - he did exactly what he was picked for. Walking in to bat with an abundance of intent, Roy scorched the RR bowlers all over the Dubai International Stadium to get his side off to a flyer.
The right-hander struck five fours inside the first six overs, and that resulted in SRH posting their highest powerplay score of the season, 63. He was also ably supported by Wriddhiman Saha, who scored 18 off 11 but perished on the final over of the first phase.
Both Roy and Saha, though, were aided by some poor bowling by the RR seamers, who were not up to the mark. Both Unadkat and Morris conceded at over 10 an over, and fed plenty of hit-me balls to the two SRH openers. Bizarrely, Samson did not use Chetan Sakariya in the powerplay.
RR’s middle-over woes continue as Williamson takes SRH over the line
Heading into today’s game, bowling in the middle-overs was Rajasthan’s Achilles Heel. They’d just taken 20 wickets in the phase, the lowest among all franchises, and their average (37.7) and (24.3) was also the worst. And the Royals yet again failed to make inroads in the middle today as they just managed just two wickets while conceding 68 runs off 9 overs.
Not only did they fail to run through the SRH middle-order, they also did not keep the batters quiet. The thorn in their path proved to be Kane Williamson, who milked runs of both the spinners and the seamers without taking risks.
And this lack of penetration in the middle-overs eventually cost RR the game as SRH, riding on the back of a fine knock from skipper Williamson, coasted to an easy seven-wicket win. The equation was down to just over run a ball by the time the death overs beckoned, and the runs were knocked off with ease by Williamson and the returning Abhishek Sharma, who played without fear.