Synopsis: Mumbai coast, Rajasthan meander

DESPITE THEIR best start in the tournament—they didn’t lose a wicket in the powerplay—Rajasthan Royals ended up with a below-par 171 for 4, which was hunted down without much fuss by Mumbai who rode on Quinton de Kock’s unbeaten 70.

Mumbai coast

Two matches into one of the most anti-aesthetic stadiums in the world, in Delhi, a pattern seems to be emerging. There are runs to be had but batsmen must woo timing, not chase muscle power. David Warner found to his detriment on Wednesday and a few Rajasthan batsmen too meandered. They would look for big beefy hits but they came too far in between to make any significant dent in the total.

The sweet timers, on the other hand, have whistled along rather well. Kane Williamson the other night and Sanju Samson on Thursday provide weight to this theory. In fact, the smartest player of the day was possibly Mumbai’s Quinton de Kock. With Samson and Williamson, it wasn’t a surprise that they preferred timing as it’s their natural game. However, de Kock can go quite hard at the ball but against Rajasthan, he chose to rely on timing.

Whether it was because he was coming into the game without many runs or because as a wicketkeeper, he had read the pitch well, he focused on getting into positions from where he could tap the ball into gaps. Like how he shuffled towards off and paddled Chetan Sakariya to the fine-leg boundary in the third over. Or the way he steered Mustafizur Rahman for a four to the third man before unfurling a lovely pick-up shot for six over square-leg in the fourth over.

Or the way he timed a four to the straight boundary off Jaydev Unadkat in the ninth over. A rare instance he went for a heave in the 14th over, he nearly holed out at deepish mid-off but Yashasvi Jaiswal, who rushed back from mid-off, couldn’t hold on to a tough chance.

Rajasthan meander

They had lost wickets in a clutch in the Powerplays in the matches so far that it seemed a small victory that they didn’t lose any wicket till the eight over. Never mind that it was the only positive thing for them from this game. Once Jos Buttler fell after a breezy 41, the innings lost steam. Shivam Dube, the tall striker, hit four boundaries with two sixes but still could score barely over run a ball for his 35. He kept swinging and the ball continued to elude the sweet spot. If only Buttler or Jaiswal, the other opener who made a sweet 32, had carried on!

Buttler was just about beginning to scythe Mumbai who were guilty of bowling too short at him when, suddenly, the leg spinner Rahul Chahar corrected his length. He ripped one fuller and got it to spin past Buttler who was charging at it like a runaway train. The left-handed Jaiswal had just hit Chahar for a six and was trying to rotate the strike with a nudge to the onside but found the leading edge off a googly to pop a simple return catch.

They were 91 for 2 from 9.5 overs and though Samson creamed five fours in his 27-ball 42, no real ammunition came from anyone else. In the first game at Delhi, Sunrisers Hyderabad too had finished on 171, which didn’t pose any problems to Chennai Super Kings. Teams will have to target at least 190-200 to test the chasing team at Delhi, or so it seems at this stage.

Brief Scores: Rajasthan Royals 171/4 in 20 overs (Sanju Samson 42, 27b, 5×4; Jos Buttler 41, 32b, 3×4, 3×6; Rahul Chahar 2/33) lost to Mumbai Indians 172/3 in 18.3 overs (Quinton de Kock 70 not out, 50b, 6×4, 2×6; Krunal Pandya 39, 26b, 2×4, 2×6; Chris Morris 2/33) by seven wickets.