A scintillating effort from the batting department witnessed Rajasthan Royals (RR) scripting a comfortable 7-wicket win over KL Rahul-captained KXIP in Abu Dhabi on Friday. Chasing 186 in 20 overs, Steve Smith & Co started off with runs all over the park, courtesy the 60-run opening stand from Ben Stokes and Robin Uthappa till 6th over.
Stokes’ departure after a quickfire 50 was followed by aggressive exhibitions from Sanju Samson (48, 25b) and Uthappa (30, 23b) that paved the way for the Royals in the chase.
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Uthappa and Samson’s wicket brought in skipper Steve Smith and Jos Buttler (22*, 11b) who then unleashed an assault on the KXIP attack as they brought the scoring rate to less than run a ball, and eventually signed off in 17.3 overs.
Rajasthan Royals have had their share of ups and downs in the ongoing season of IPL. They lost a bit of momentum midway through the tournament, but they have managed to bounce back with 3 out of the last 5 matches and now, the Men in Pink have a chance of making it to the playoffs. Steve Smith, who scored 31* off 21 deliveries, talked about their win over KXIP and RR’s run in the tournament this season.
Would have been great to win a few in middle, says Smith
‘Ebbed and flowed. But, it would have been great to win a few in the middle. But it is about peaking at the right time. We still need to do our bit. We have different plans as to who goes in after who gets out. Gave Buttler a chance to bat number 5 after he didn’t bat in the previous game. Nice to get over the line comfortably. Helps the NRR,” said Smith in the post-match presentation.
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Ben Stokes’ addition into the side midway in the tournament has been a major comfort for the Rajasthan Royals. The English all-rounder has bagged ‘Player of the Match’ awards in the last two games, scoring an unbeaten 107 off 60 against MI, followed by 2/32 and 26-ball 50 against KXIP.
“The last two games he has been exceptional. Has good innovation, hits the ball in weird areas. He is a valuable player. One of the best in the world. You are always talking to players and try to get the best of them. We know if he spends time in the middle, he will come good,” Smith said on Stokes’ all-round contribution.
In the points table, RR is now at the 5th spot with 6 wins in 13 matches, and tied alongside Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) with 12 points each. However, the difference is in the Net Run Rate (NRR), with KXIP enjoying a slightly better NRR of -0.133, while RR and KKR possess -0.377 and -0.463 respectively.
Rajasthan Royals have just a solitary match remaining in the league stages. They will lock horns with Eoin Morgan-led Kolkata Knight Riders in the second match of the double-header on Sunday in Dubai.