Tuesday saw the Rajasthan Royals beat the Kings XI Punjab by 15 runs to keep alive their faint hopes in the tournament. It was a remarkable match in that well over half the runs scored came off the bat of just two players, with KL Rahul scoring two-thirds of his side’s runs in a losing cause.
Winning the toss in Jaipur, Rajasthan opted to bat first, and got off to a fast start through Jos Buttler and Ajinkya Rahane. Andrew Tye took the wicket of Rahane, the first of his four victims, and Krishnappa Gowtham went cheaply, but Buttler and Sanju Samson added 51 for the third wicket, before Samson fell for 22. Next man out was Buttler, who earned the man of the match award for his 82, struck off 58 balls, including a six. Fellow Englishman Ben Stokes was dismissed by Tye, who took two further wickets as the Royals’ innings concluded on 156 – 8.
The Punjab reply got off to a disastrous start with both Chris Gayle and Ravichandran Ashwin falling in the third over off the bowling of Gowtham. Karun Nair soon followed, as the visitors slumped to 19 – 3. Rahul was playing well at the other end, but he lacked any meaningful support, with only Marcus Stoinis, batting at eight, getting into double figures. In the end, the target proved too much, even for Rahul, and the Punjab innings closed on 143 – 7, with Rahul undefeated on 95. One consolation for the batsman, in defeat, was that he acquired the orange cap for the leading run scorer in the IPL this season.
On Wednesday the Kolkata Knight Riders suffered their heaviest defeat in IPL history in terms of margin of victory, as they were thrashed by the Mumbai Indians by 102 runs in front of their home crowd. The defeat was so bad that afterwards KKR co-owner Shah Rukh Khan apologised to supporters for their lack of effort.
Put into bat, Evin Lewis (18) and Suryakumar Yadav (36) gave the Indians a solid platform, before both fell to the bowling of Piyush Chawla. Then a swashbuckling partnership of 82 between Ishan Kishan and Rohit Sharma saw the visitors really attack the home bowlers, with Kishan particularly destructive. He struck 62 off just 21 balls, including 7 sixes and 5 fours, with a performance that later earned him the man of the match award. When he fell, Hardik Pandya took his place at the crease, and added a brisk 19. Sharma was out for 36, but Ben Cutting scored a late 24, including 3 sixes of his own. He was out off the penultimate ball, but there was still time for Krunal Pandya to hit the last ball of the innings for six as Mumbai closed on an imposing 210 – 6.
The Kolkata reply got off to a terrible start when Sunil Narine fell in the first over. Chris Lynn and Robin Uthappa looked to steady matters, but a mix-up between the pair saw Lynn run-out for 21. Uthappa and Nitish Rana stayed together for three overs, before Uthappa departed for 14, and, thereafter, there was a steady procession of Kolkata batsmen back to the pavilion, as the innings subsided. All the Mumbai bowlers claimed at least one wicket a piece, as the Knight Riders resistance crumbled. In the end they were all out for 108 in the 19th over, bringing to an end a match they will soon want to forget.
Thursday saw records as Risbabh Pant, the 20-year old batsman playing for the Delhi Daredevils, scored the highest individual total in the IPL this year, and the joint 5th highest ever, with 128 not out, scoring 59 off the last 18 balls he faced. Yet his side lost by 9 wickets and he was not even named man of the match!
Winning the toss in Delhi and deciding to bat against Sunrisers Hyderabad, the Daredevils got off to a poor start with both openers, Jason Roy and Prithvi Shaw, out of successive balls in the 4th over, with Shreyas Iyer run out shortly afterwards. Pant and Harshal Patel shared 55 for the 5th wicket, before Patel fell for 24, and then Pant combined with Glenn Maxwell in a 63 run stand, of which Maxwell scored just 9. Patel was hitting the ball to all parts of the ground, and helped his side to 187 – 5, having hit 7 sixes and 15 fours off just 63 balls.
In reply, the Sunrisers lost Alex Hayles in the second over for 14, but then Shikhar Dhawan and Kane Williamson joined in an unbeaten partnership of 177, which saw their side reach their target with 7 balls to spare. Williamson hit an unbeaten 83, including 2 sixes, whilst Dhawan, who did get the man of the match award, scored 92 not out including 4 sixes and 9 fours. The victory assured Hyderabad a place in the play-offs whilst Pant’s compensation is that he took ownership of the orange cap, at least temporarily.
On Friday, England’s Jos Buttler scored his highest T20 score with an innings of 95 not out, as he helped his side, the Rajasthan Royals, beat the Chennai Super Kings by 4 wickets, with one ball to spare. Winning the toss and deciding to bat, Chennai lost Ambati Rayudu early to the bowling of Jofra Archer, but then an 86 run stand for the second wicket between Shane Watson and Suresh Raina appeared to put them in control. Watson eventually fell to Archer for 39, and then Raina, top scoring with 52, was out to Ish Sodhi, but then MS Dhoni made another useful contribution with bat, adding 55 with Sam Billings, before the latter was run out by Buttler for 27. Dhoni was undefeated on 33 as the visitors closed on 176 – 4
Buttler opened the Rajasthan innings with another England teammate in Ben Stokes, but, after a fast start, he fell for 11, with captain Ajinkja Rahane departing soon afterwards. Sanju Samson (21) offered briefly some support, but when he and Prakash Chopra were both out in the space of 8 balls, the home side appeared to be struggling. However, Stuart Binny (21) helped keep them in the match, and Krishnappa Gowtham blasted 13 off just 4 balls, including 2 sixes, to help set up an exciting finish. Needing 12 to win off the last over, Buttler scored two consecutive twos, and then hit a six over mid-wicket, before another two brought his side victory. He deservedly won the man of the match award for his innings which came off 60 balls and included 2 sixes.
Despite the loss, Chennai looked well placed to reach the play-offs with three matches to go, as they lie second in the table behind the Sunrisers. Punjab look to have a good chance of taking the third spot, which leaves Mumbai, Kolkata and Rajasthan all vying for the final berth.