Rajasthan Royals (RR) all-rounder Rahul Tewatia was one of the front-runners to feature in this piece. But a six off the young Ravi Bishnoi set the stage for a dramatic turnaround in the following Sheldon Cottrell over.
Taking no less than 30 runs off it - 6, 6, 6, 6, dot, 6 - Tewatia completely turned his innings around. Out of nowhere, Rajasthan were able to upstage a mammoth total set by the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) at Sharjah.
KL Rahul, the KXIP skipper, would be cursing his luck. Despite having a terrific day with the bat, the team lost inexplicably in a see-sawing, close contest, just like their first game against the Delhi Capitals.
A small consolation for them was Mayank Agarwal's incredible century and Rahul's own continued run of form. It was a pity that he would not be the most talked-about Rahul at the end of the game.
As for RR, it was as if they won the game out of nowhere. Steve Smith and Sanju Samson were indeed as quick and explosive as expected, but with an RR batting lineup that looks short on paper, nobody would have put it on the rest of the batting order to overhaul the target once they departed. As many as 18 runs were required from each over at one stage, with Cottrell left to bowl at the death for KXIP.
In a game made up by some striking individual performances and several mediocre ones that got covered up, a few players stuck out as concerns for their team. Not all were lucky enough to get away with a good team result despite their travails. Here are 3 players who disappointed in the RR vs KXIP IPL 2020 game.
#3 Shreyas Gopal (RR)
Moral victories ultimately count for little when you are unable to get your name on the wickets column. Twice in the ninth over, RR leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal beat KXIP opener Mayank Agarwal in flight. It was a pity that both balls still cleared the short, straight boundaries at Sharjah. It would only be the first over of misery for Gopal as he got taken to the cleaners by Agarwal and KXIP skipper Rahul.
The fact that they have played a significant amount with each other - Rahul and Mayank are close friends, and all three are from Karnataka - made the match-up even more intriguing.
Each seemed to have their plans against the other, but at the end of the contest, the batsmen won it by a mile. Gopal bowled out 4 overs giving away 44 runs, without being able to disturb the wickets column.
#2 Jos Buttler (RR)
One of the main reasons RR were not written off immediately after KXIP smashed 223/2 was the presence of Jos Buttler in the RR lineup. In the past two years, Buttler has scored 859 runs from 21 games at the top of the order and become a talisman for RR. Thus, the expectation on him was to get the team off to a blazing start.
However, Buttler found it difficult to get going against some quality fast bowling with the new ball by KXIP's quicks, and was left admiring his captain and opening partner score boundaries at will.
In a dismissal that was symbolic of an innings cut short, he was caught inside the circle trying to force the pace. It just so happened that RR did not eventually need Buttler's runs on the night to chase KXIP's daunting total, but the story could have been very different.
#1 Sheldon Cottrell (KXIP)
At the start of the 18th over, KL Rahul threw the ball to Sheldon Cottrell, who had taken the important wicket of Buttler early on. Presumably, Cottrell was intended to bowl the 18th and 20th over for KXIP and close out the RR innings.
Against a batsman yet to score many runs this season in Robin Uthappa, and another batsman who looked utterly frustrated and unable to put bat to ball in Tewatia, this seemed like a gift.
It was not to be. Freebies at the body allowed Tewatia to lift the ball over the ropes on the legside. When he pitched it up, it landed in the slot, allowing Tewatia to clear long off. A dot ball was an oasis of relief before a short and wide bouncer was duly dispatched over point for six.
Cottrell conceded 30 off the over, did not return for the 20th over and went back with figures of 3-0-56-1. In a game that surprised many and threw up several unsung heroes, Cottrell was one who bore the brunt the most, and will look to bounce back in the next game for KXIP.
Published 28 Sep 2020, 01:35 IST