Rajasthan pulled off an incredible run-chase against Mumbai on Sunday, riding on the back of Ben Stokes' unbeaten century, to move up in the Indian T20 League tally. Mumbai, batting first, had posted 195/5 after Hardik Pandya's 21-ball 60, and looked well on course to a comfortable victory, having reduced Rajasthan to 44/2 inside the Powerplay overs. Ben Stokes and Sanju Samson, however, combined to take their team all the way to victory.
Having said that, here are some of the key talking points from the game:
Mumbai doing well with the bat without Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma’s absence was rightly expected to hit Mumbai hard. Regardless of his substandard returns with the bat this season, the fact remains that his leadership quality is up with the very best. In the two games without him though, Mumbai have fared well enough, to say the least, having won their first game against Chennai with 10 wickets. On Sunday, even though Quinton de Kock departed early, Ishan Kishan once again showed promise while being the anchor, scoring a steady 37, as Suryakumar Yadav proceeded as a destroyer.
The two stitched together a lengthy partnership of 83 runs after scoring their team’s joint-highest Powerplay score (59/1) of the ongoing season. Performances as these paint an encouraging picture that Mumbai are actually doing pretty well, at least with the bat, without Rohit Sharma. But it will be a baseless argument to say they are better off without him.
Rajasthan’s opening woes
“I think Buttler should definitely be opening," Warne told Sky Sports' Cricket Show on Saturday while talking about Rajasthan’s opening issues. "I think Ben Stokes can do a job opening the batting, but I would like Ben in the middle overs - that's where he has played all of his cricket and done really well.”
Rajasthan are yet to figure out their opening pair despite being 12 games old in this year’s Indian T20 League. The winners of the inaugural edition have used five different opening pairs, and nothing really has worked for them so far. Since moving Uthappa alongside Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler has acquired the role of destroyer in the middle where he has posted 24, 70* and 9. The results have been far from overwhelming as Rajasthan have won just one of their last four games since opening with Uthappa and Ben Stokes.
It’s quite evident that the Rajasthan hierarchy has made things quite intricate in this regard. The team has been experimenting, with no real results whatsoever, since the very beginning, and maybe it’s time for them to agree with Warne who said they should ‘put their best batsmen at the top of the order to ensure they can face as many balls as possible.’
Sanju’s way to resurrection
Sanju Samson has been a subject of constant criticism, but on Sunday, the 25-year-old laid his way back to resurrection by scoring a quick-fire half-century while playing a 152-run stand with Ben Stokes. Rajasthan looked out of sorts in the beginning, losing two wickets within the Powerplay overs, and were in a dire need of a big partnership to churn out anything positive from the situation, and that’s exactly what Samson delivered.
In a situation that behested ordinance, Samson regained his top spot as the player with most sixes in the tournament, while also helping Stokes pull off a difficult run chase against arguably one of the best bowling teams of the tournament. While Stokes completed a century, Samson remained unbeaten at 54, making this burdensome chase rather an easy one.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @IndianT20League