Mumbai, May 13: Rajasthan Royals kept their play-off ambitions alive with a facile seven-wicket win over Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium here on Sunday (May 13).
Let's paddle through the numbers first. Mumbai Indians limped to 168/6 in 20 overs and Rajasthan Royals overhauled the target in 18 overs. They now have 12 points with two more games at hand and thereby a good chance to enter the knockout stage. In another turn of events, the win for Rajasthan Royals pushed Chennai Super Kings, who had defeated Sunrisers Hyderabad in the day's first match, into the play-offs.
It was a superlative collective effort that spurred Rajasthan Royals to the victory but some individuals shone brighter than the rest. Here's the picture of the match through them.
JOS BUTTLER (94 n.o., 53b, 9x4, 5x6)
Power. Placement. Timing. You can attribute one name to those basic cricketing elements - Jos Buttler. The Englishman is a transformed player once the Rajasthan Royals assured him of the opener's slot. His strike-rate since taking up that role is a tad over 153 as compared to 119 before it.
Buttler has not made even one fifty for Rajasthan Royals in the seven innings before the opener's job came calling. But he made most of his promotion since, cracking five fifties in as many games and that's a feat matched only by Virender Sehwag in the IPL history.
Buttler now has 509 runs at an average little over 56 and is now fifth on the run-getters' list in this IPL. Turnaround perfect, if you may.
On Sunday (May 13), Buttler played shots all around the park and added 95 runs for the second wicket with Ajinkya Rahane after Jasprit Bumrah jettisoned D'Arcy Short, who came in for a sick Ish Sodhi, in the very first over itself - a delivery that was angled away from the left-hander kissed the edge of the blade en route wicketkeeper Ishan Kishan.
But the highlight of the Rajasthan Royals chase came when Buttler and Sanju Samson amassed 61 runs in just over four overs to seal the game in their team's favour.
JOFRA ARCHER (4-0-16-2)
The fast bowler was on top of his game this night. Rajasthan Royals skipper Ajinkya Rahane handed over the ball to him in the 11th over. Mumbai Indians were 86 for no loss then and Royals needed a breakthrough to blunt the hosts' rhythm. And Archer gave them two in that over.
10.4: Surya Kumar Yadav could not keep a pull on the ground and Jaydev Unadkat at long leg tumbled forward to take a fine low catch.
10.5: A quick short ball climbed and cramped Rohit Sharma for room but the Mumbai skipper decided to go through the hook. But he was never really in control of the shot and Unadkat this time snaffled a chest-high catch as Mumbai Indians slipped to 87/2 and thereon they struggled to get a move on. Evin Lewis (60 off 42 balls) tried to flex his arms but the Rajasthan Royals bowlers never really let that grip slip away from them.
The only sore point for Archer on the night was the sitter he grassed of Ben Cutting but fortunately it did not have any effect on the game.
SANJU SAMSON (26 off 14 balls & 2 catches)
Lewis, who was earlier dropped on five by Stuart Binny, tried to smash Dhawal Kulkarni out of the park and he got the elevation - plenty of it too - but not the distance. Samson of Rajasthan Royals ssettled nicely under the ball and effected a reverse-cup catch. It was that period when Mumbai lost four wickets for 37 runs in 30 balls between overs 11 and 15.
Sanju raced across the turf and dived full-length to complete a stunning catch to dismiss Hardik Pandya, who was connecting a few big shots, off Ben Stokes.
When his turn came to bat, Sanju did not wait for any landmarks such as a possible hundred for Buttler. His aim, perhaps, was to improve the net run-rate of Rajasthan Royals. He also ensured that there was not much pressure on Buttler.
HARDIK PANDYA (36, 21b, 3x4, 2x6; 4-0-52-2)
Hardik gave impetus to Mumbai Indians who were struggling against a set of spot on Rajasthan Royals bowlers. He punished Unadkat, who erred in line and length, in the 19th over with a sequence of 6, 4, 6 and he could have done some more damage but for that amazing catch by Sanju.
But there was no miracle on this night from Hardik the bowler. He took two wickets - Rahane and Samson - but they were not enough to make any impact on the game and he leaked plenty of runs too, especially against a rampaging Buttler.
Perhaps, Hardik's effort carried a microcosm of Mumbai's outing - brilliant at one stage and pedestrian the other. And inconsistencies have no place in a format and tournament like this.