Bengaluru, April 15: Sanju Samson posted the highest individual score so far in the 2018 Indian Premier League as Rajasthan Royals defeated Royal Challengers Bangalore by 19 runs for their second win at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in the first of IPL's Sunday double-headers.
Samson's unbeaten knock of 92 off 45 balls saw Royals post 217/4 in their 20 overs after being put to bat. The Royals spinners - Shreyas Gopal (2/22), K Gowtham (1/36) and D'Arcy Short (1/10) - bamboozled their way through the Royal Challengers' batting order and restricted them to 198/6.
With a big total to chase, RCB wasted no time in getting off the blocks. However, that proved to be their undoing as the pursuit of the big shots led to their downfall. All their top four batsmen - Brendon McCullum, Quinton de Kock, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers - were caught in the deep while trying to clear the ropes.
The 77-run stand between de Kock and Kohli carried RCB through the early overs but the hosts couldn't sustain their partnerships. While Royals had three big partnerships during their innings, RCB had just two - the second one between Washington Sundar and Mandeep Singh for 56 runs coming in sheer desperation.
Ben Stokes' masterclass at the outfield sent Brendon McCullum back early. Baz pulled one over the midwicket off K Gowtham but Stokes timed his jump perfectly to get a hold of the ball in the deep.
Kohli brought up a fine fifty to give RCB hope. He was meticulous in finding the gaps in the field and wasn't shy in playing the two big ones too. D'Arcy Short, after a disappointing outing with the bat, provided the breakthrough that led to RCB's slump. Off the last ball of the 8th over, de Kock stretched the delivery spinning away from him over the fine leg only to be caught by Jaydev Unadkat.
And then, from 100/2 after 10 overs, they collapsed to 136/5 in the next five overs, losing their main men to spinners.
Virat Kohli was dismissed for 57 after being caught in the deep midwicket by Short off Shreyas Gopal in the 11th over. The leg-spinner claimed the next big one too - de Villiers - in similar fashion in the 13th over. The South African was tempted to hit over the deep square leg boundary but only reached as far as Unadkat.
After his dismissal, Mandeep Singh () gave RCB some hope but with the required run rate soaring, there was nothing much he could do. He and Sundar (35 off 19) brought down the asking rate but RCB had just conceded one too many runs.
Earlier, Samson made the most of an ineffective bowling performance by the RCB bowlers and took RR to their highest score against the Royal Challengers.
Samson, who had scores of 49 and 37 in the first two matches for RR, came in after the dismissal of captain Ajinkya Rahane in the sixth over. He remained unbeaten till the end of the Royals innings, seeing his team through a middle-overs slump as well.
Interestingly, Samson did not score a boundary until the 19th over, dealing with only the maximum hits - 10 of them. He had eight sixes before scoring his first four and followed it up with another one at the end of the 19th over.
Ajinkya Rahane (36 off 20) got Royals off to a great start. Despite battling a knee problem, captain Rahane showed no mercy against the RCB bowlers, hitting six boundaries all over the park and one six over the long-on boundary off Washington Sundar.
However, his stint at the crease came to a premature end when he went for the maximum against Chris Woakes, who flung his delivery a touch slower to get the right-hander caught at mid-on by Umesh Yadav.
Short's struggles in the IPL continued. The left-handed opener was sluggish from the start for Royals and he departed soon after Rahane, getting a nick off Yuzvendra Chahal to be caught behind by de Kock.
And like that, Royals' performance dipped after the first powerplay. Stokes and Samson took time to settle in but once they did, Royals were back on track.
Stokes ended the slump by whipping one off Umesh Yadav through the deep midwicket boundary and that appeared to have spurred the Royals. The England all-rounder slogged his way to 27 but had to walk back to the pavilion disappointed after falling to Yuzvendra Chahal (2/22). Stokes attempted to drag the ball pitching outside off through deep square leg, only to get a thick inside edge onto the stumps. Chahal overtook Vinay Kumar (72 wickets) as RCB's highest wicket-taker.
Samson, however, hung on and kept the scoreboard ticking. The 16th over, bowled by Umesh, changed it all for Royals. Yadav, looking a bit off colour on Sunday, started with a wide and then sprung a full toss away from Samson. The Kerala batsman then smashed a six over deep midwicket off the free hit as Royals cropped up 13 runs from that over.
Jos Buttler (23 off 14) kept Samson company and built a partnership of 73 runs for the fourth wicket. He was dismissed by fellow Englishman Woakes, mishitting the full delivery to Virat Kohli at mid-off.
That didn't matter for RR as they hit 88 runs off the last five overs, a total that was too much to get for RCB.