The Rajasthan Royals were playing the first game of Saturday in their neck of the woods i.e. Jaipur to be precise and their 30-run win over the Royal Challengers Bangalore gave them hopes of booking a berth in the playoffs while RCB’s went crashing down.
It was a must-win game for both teams and winning the toss always helps in this case the Rajasthan Royals won it and chose to bat first. Rahul Tripathi was the man of the moment for RR as the hosts put on 164-5 at the end of their 20 overs. But it did not start as hoped by the Royals starting with quite odd decision to send Jofra Archer to open the innings as a pinch-hitter. Skipper Rahane might have hoping that Archer would fire like Sunil Narine does for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the powerplay overs. Needless to say the plan went down in flames with Archer getting a duck, his fourth this season, by gloving the ball from Umesh Yadav to the keeper as Rajasthan went down to 2-1 at the end of the first two overs.
Then came what was arguably the turning point of the match. On his opening partner’s departure Rahul Tripathi was looking to anchor his side but soon was facing a loud raucous appeal from the fielding team when Moeen Ali struck him on the pads. The umpire did not agree with the appeal and fortunately for Tripathi, Kohli decided against the review. Replays showed that Tripathi would have had to walk if the decision was reviewed. Well as Navjot Singh Sidhu has often said, “If ifs and ands were pots and pans…”
Tripathi took full advantage and made a half-century which was much-needed by the Royals. Together with his captain, Tripathi put on a crucial partnership of 99-run stand for the second wicket and eventually carried his bat through remaining unbeaten on 80 (58 balls) to take Rajasthan to a competitive 164-5.
When RCB came in to bat, they were hoping that their top order fires properly on what was a slow pitch assisting the spinners more as the match progressed. Virat Kohli was claimed early but AB de Villiers and Parthiv Patel knocked the ball around the park making 55 runs for the first six overs with Jofra Archer in particular getting special treatment. It was quite clearly not the easiest pitch to bat on but the South African put on a masterful display of batting to bring up his sixth half-century of the season. De Villiers was looking like he would be there till the end till a Shreyas Gopal googly outfoxed him ending his 35-ball 53 in its tracks.
Just when it looked like RCB were beginning to get away with it, leg-spinner Gopal put the brakes on… hard! In the ninth over, he struck twice getting Patel stumped by Klaasen and then taking an excellent return catch off his own bowling to get rid of Moeen Ali. In his following over, Mandeep Singh was another victim, he too getting stumped like Parthiv Patel. Gopal’s dream spell continued as half-centurion AB de Villiers too fell stumped by Klaasen, his third stumping of the day.
The leg-spinner’s career-best figures of 4-16 reduced Bangalore to 99-6 at the end of the 14th over as Rajasthan gained the upper hand. Eventually, Virat Kohli’s men were bowled out for 134 runs as their run in this IPL 2018 edition ended in a tough defeat.
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