Dubai, October 22: At his fiery best, Jofra Archer gave Rajasthan Royals a dream start in their pursuit to successfully defend a below-par target of 155 runs. Pacer gobbled up the wickets of openers David Warner and Jonny Bairstow in the first and the third over respectively, but Manish Pandey (83* off 47 balls) did not let the twin blows affect the chase. In the company of Vijay Shankar (52* off 51 balls), Pandey comfortably guided Sunrisers Hyderabad to an eight-wicket victory over the Royals at the Dubai International Stadium on Thursday. Pacers hunt in pairs, but Archer (2-21) had no partner to complement his good work that eventually went in vain.
With this win, SRH stay afloat in the playoff race while Royals’ chances are virtually over.
Popular as a ‘blockbuster’ player, Ben Stokes was nowhere near to this image of his as he struggled to make his contribution count as an opener for the Royals. Grappling with his poor form, the all-rounder laboured to score 30 runs off 32 balls before SRH’s Rashid Khan spun his web to good effect that ended Stokes’ struggle in the 13th over.
What transpired before this was a trickle-down effect, as Sanju Samson (36 off 26 balls) perished in the 12th over in his attempt to accelerate the scoring rate which was seven at the end of 11 overs. After hitting a six off Jason Holder, an off-cutter on the very next ball had the Kerala batsman castled as he attempted a cut.
Courtesy their long-standing batting struggle and SRH bowlers who were right on the money, Royals could only post a target of 155.
After Samson’s dismissal, the scoreboard moved at snail’s pace as Royals looked devoid of technique and attitude required to take on the impeccable SRH bowlers. Jos Buttler (9 off 12 balls), at fourth place, came and left without leaving any impact. It was then over to Royals captain Steve Smith (19 off 15 balls) and youngster Riyan Parag (20 off 12 balls) to add respectability to the total. But in no time, Holder, who is playing his first match of the 13th edition of the IPL, struck twice in the 19th over and sent both the batsmen packing.
Earlier, after an early jolt in the fourth over, Samson and Stokes joined hands to steady the Royals’ ship and took the team to 47 at the loss of one wicket at the end of the powerplay. The wicketkeeper batsman got going from the very third ball he faced that he drove through the covers and followed it up with another four in the extra-cover region.
Looking comfortable, Robin Uthappa (19 off 13 balls) was quick off the blocks as he opened the innings with Stokes. But before he could launch himself, he ran himself out in search of an elusive single, which never existed.
Sunrisers brought all-rounder Holder in place of injured Kane Williamson and fast bowler Basil Thampi with left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem. (TNN)