APRIL 13, 2019
Brief Scorecard: Rajasthan Royals 188 for 6 (Buttler 89, Krunal Pandya 3-34) beat Mumbai Indians 187 for 5 (de Kock 81, Archer 3-39) by four wickets
MUMBAI – Just two matches after recording the best figures in IPL history, Alzarri Joseph found himself on the receiving end of a brutal assault from Jos Buttler, whose 89 off 43 balls spearheaded a successful chase in a four-wicket win for Rajasthan Royals over Mumbai Indians. The result ended Mumbai’s three-match winning streak while Royals notched just their second win of the season.
Set a target of 188 on a batting road, Royals coasted to 100 for 1 in 10 overs as Buttler brought up a 30-ball half-century at the halfway point of the innings. The Englishman had already starred in the field taking three sharp catches on the boundary having given up the gloves to Sanju Samson for the first time this season and seemingly had far more energy as a result.
Having brought up his third fifty of IPL 2019, Buttler unleashed himself on Joseph in the 13th. With 70 needed off 48 balls, Buttler brought the required rate down to a run a ball by the end of the over. He began lofting a full toss over long-on for six before driving wide of mid-off and cutting behind point for a pair of fours. Joseph tried to counter with a pair of yorkers on the next two balls, but each was stabbed out between the wicketkeeper and short third man for two more fours. Buttler then heaved the final ball over midwicket for six to end a demoralising sequence for Joseph and the hosts.
Buttler fell on his next ball in the following over to legspinner Rahul Chahar, but the damage was done by that stage. Despite several hiccups in the final stages of the chase that saw four wickets fall in the space of nine balls, Royals were still far enough in front thanks to Buttler. Shreyas Gopal eventually sealed it with three balls to spare with a four driven off Hardik Pandya just wide of mid-off.
The Mumbai XI was boosted by the return of captain Rohit Sharma, who had sat out the last match due to injury. He found his groove in the fourth over against Dhawal Kulkarni with three boundaries, including an exquisite square drive through point. He eventually made 47 off 32 before falling to Jofra Archer in the 11th miscuing a drive to Buttler at long-on.
Inconclusive Poll Data
Kieron Pollard did his best Superman impression in Mumbai’s last-ball win in their previous match against Kings XI Punjab when he smashed 83 off 31 balls including 10 sixes. He was decidedly human against the Royals bowling unit though, struggling to make a 12-ball 6 after entering in the 14th over before skying a short ball from Archer over the circle. Shreyas took a sensational over-the-shoulder catch running back from midwicket in the ring.
It was a crucial blow as Mumbai stuttered to the finish without Pollard’s firepower. Despite 16 struck off the final over with some lusty blows from Hardik, who finished with an unbeaten 28 off 11 balls, Mumbai’s 187 appeared well-below par after the start they had. Quinton de Kock top-scored with 81 off 52 balls, but ran out of steam towards the end of his knock. The physio came out to attend to him at one point as he struggled in the afternoon heat and he eventually fell in the 19th over to give Archer his third wicket off a third phenomenal diving catch by Buttler at long-off.
Royals went into the match without Ben Stokes, who sat out the encounter with an undisclosed injury. Yet Royals still had another Englishman with firepower to call on as Buttler teamed with Ajinkya Rahane in a brisk 60-run opening stand.
Rahane was actually given out lbw for 4 to end the first over, but the decision was overturned on DRS after hawkeye showed the good length ball from tall left-armer Jason Behrendorff would have comfortably cleared the stumps. Buttler also survived a tight DRS moment in the fourth when he missed a reverse sweep to Krishnappa Gowtham’s legspin. Given out on field, the replay showed the ball crashing into off stump but that impact with the pad took place on the fringe of the off stump line and the decision stayed on field with umpire’s call.
Joseph’s first wave of punishment came from Rahane in the fifth when he was driven for four, flicked over midwicket for six, then ramped over the keeper for another boundary. Once Rahane got out top-edging a sweep to deep midwicket off Krunal Pandya’s second ball in the seventh, Buttler took over and put his stamp on the chase. He charged Krunal’s first ball in the ninth to bash him for six over wide long-on and by the end of the next over had brought up his fifty, setting the stage for his scintillating spree against Joseph in the 13th that put Royals firmly on course for a win.