Sanju Samson’s sensational 119 off just 63 balls went in vain as Rajasthan Royals fell four runs short of a massive 222-run target against Punjab Kings in Mumbai.
Match 4 of the VIVO IPL – what could probably be called the battle of the underdogs, as both RR and PBKS (earlier KXIP), have not had any good, mentionable recent seasons, RR having the sole win in 2008.
Both the teams are full of talent but missed the playoffs by a whisker last season. One team is led by Sanju Samson, the other by KL Rahul. Both are wicketkeepers, and both will be looking forward to performing well, as the T20 world cup selections are dependent on their show in the IPL.
And, judging by this match, the selectors have their work cut out, as both seem to be in sublime form.
RR won the toss, and, like all others till now, chose to bowl first. An interesting thing was Samson, probably due to the pressure of the first-time captaincy, or due to the fact that it was too early in the game, didn’t take a review against LBW.
That later was proved to be plumb, all three reds were shown in ball tracking. That little disappointment, however, did not cost them much as Mayank got the honours of being Chetan Sakariya’s debut IPL wicket. Then, throughout the power play, it was pretty much even, as there were a few shots here and there, but the overall rate was limited by the RR bowlers.
Gayle and Rahul continued, bashing all the bowlers around the park. But then, an impromptu over by Riyan Parag ended Gayle’s stint. Rahul, then, reached his 50 of just 32 balls. Hooda too began to settle in, hitting a few sixes.
The two went on for a long time, till Hooda got out after a blazing 50. Soon Pooran was dismissed for a golden duck. In the end, PBKS finished at 221- 6, while Sakariya got 3 wickets, marking an impressive debut.
The main factor of their 200 was Rahul’s knock of 91, and the Gayle storm, of course, who, unlike the other big shots till now, did not disappoint.
RR though, suffered a big blow early – losing Stokes in the very first over, with nothing on board. Soon, Manan Vohra fell to Arshdeep Singh, after being dropped once. Punjab once again disappointed with their fielding, as Rahul dropped a catch off Samson.
Then again, both sides were sloppy on the field, dropping crucial catches, something they might look to improve. Anyway, after Vohra, Butter came in, and RR banked on him and the skipper to give them some stability. As soon as he came, Buttler thrashed young Riley Meredith for back to back boundaries, which was not the best starts for a debutant.
But he was not to stay long, having his wickets cleaned up by Richardson. After a while, Dube got out, scoring 23 off 15. Meanwhile, all this was at one end while at the other, Samson played a captain’s knock and reached 100.
Even with this brilliant knock, RR couldn’t get over the line. It all went down to the last ball, a six needed off it. Samson, trying to knock it out of the park, just couldn’t do it. However, he was judged as the man of the match, for his brilliant and herculean effort, and rightly so, although Rahul too was a contender with his blazing 91.
The match was full of excitement, and truly, as everyone anticipated, it was a battle of sixes. Also, PBKS, perhaps the most experienced in last ball finishes, again did it this time. Will, any of these two get the elusive title? Only time will tell.