(ESPNCRICINFO) – Rajasthan Royals are happy to have four No. 11s in their line-up. And this is why. Each of them, led by Trent Boult, produced a match-winning contribution and this one will taste ever so sweet because it takes them so close to a place in the IPL playoffs.
They knocked the stuffing out of Lucknow Super Giants, who in all likelihood will be one of the teams they will meet in those knockout matches later this month. So this win – defending 178 – isn’t just that, it’s something to carry forward.
The Royals promise
A young batter with a power game is one of the most exciting things in cricket. Yashasvi Jaiswal (41 off 29) certainly lived up to that billing tonight.
At one point, he was beaten by Avesh Khan, the ball storming past his outside edge like it was offended he had even tried to hit it. In the next over, as if deciding enough was enough, Jaiswal made the darn thing disappear.
That six into the crowd behind square leg in a Dushmantha Chameera over that cost 21 runs, combined with Sanju Samson’s takedown of Ravi Bishnoi in the eighth over, threatened something special.
It’s good to have options
This game was all about punch and counterpunch.
The first part of that equation is a given. Batting teams in T20 cricket seldom hold back. But for a bowling team to respond, it takes either a lot of effort, or a lot of options.
Super Giants had a lot of options.
Five balls after Samson pawned Bishnoi, he fell to Jason Holder.
So in came Devdutt Padikkal, who hit five of the first 10 balls he faced to the boundary.
One ball after that run-spree, Ayush Badoni dismissed Jaiswal.
KL Rahul used eight bowlers, all of whom combined so well that by the start of the 17th over, the opposition’s finisher James Neesham was batting with just R. Ashwin for company and those four No. 11s to come.
A mix-up, and a botched attempt by the less recognised batter to sacrifice his wicket, left Ashwin and Boult at the crease with 14 balls still remaining, but they managed to biff 26 off those 14 balls. Who needs batting depth?
A Brabourne pitch that offered movement + Boult = Magic.
The Royals new-ball phenom took two wickets in the third over: Quinton de Kock caught off a long hop and Badoni lbw with mesmerising inswing.
Prasidh Krishna took out Rahul from the other end — cramping the batter for room as he tried to play the cut — and that virtually was the game.
Super Giants have relied heavily on their captain this season. More than 30% of their runs (421) in winning causes have come off his blade. But here, he was gone with 14.3 overs still to play.
Chahal vs Hooda
Super Giants were on the mat. They were 34 for 3 at the end of the powerplay. They hit just five boundaries in the eight overs that followed. Royals were squeezing the life out of them thanks to Ashwin (4-0-24-1) and Obed McCoy (2-0-16-0)
Deepak Hooda (59 off 39) tried to break free of this strangle and he chose to do so against the highest wicket-taker in IPL 2022. Yuzvendra Chahal was hit for a six and a four to start the 11th over. But this is not a bowler who backs down. He didn’t against Glenn Maxwell. He didn’t against Kieron Pollard. He didn’t against MS Dhoni. And he didn’t against Hooda either.
The game itself was long since over, but this head-to-head was still simmering.
Hooda has been one of the IPL’s perennial itinerants, never establishing his place in any of the teams he’s played for.
A player with so many gifts, foremost among them his long reach and plenty of power, should be dominating this tournament. But on occasion his decision-making has let him down.
At Super Giants, it seems he’s been given the confidence to play the way he likes. He’s been given responsibility too, batting at No. 3. When you’ve spent a long time on the fringes, and suddenly someone comes along and gives you that kind of trust, you will never want to let them down.
Hooda did what he could but in the end, it was just too much. He charged at Chahal once again in the 16th over, but this time the leg-spinner angled the ball into his pads, denying him the room to free those hands, and had him stumped off an inside edge. Everyone just went through the motions after that.