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Sunday, January 23, 2022

IPL 2021: Bowlers set up Royals, Samson puts finishing touches

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Much to his team’s delight, Sanju Samson took responsibility after two early wickets. Bowlers had set Rajasthan Royals up nicely, restricting Kolkata Knight Riders to 133/9. After that, some common sense batting was needed, which the Royals skipper did. A six-wicket win with seven balls to spare rounded off a good night for the Rajasthan-based franchise, while KKR suffered their fourth straight defeat.

Bowlers set up Royals

KKR innings had just nine fours and five sixes, which attested Royals’ bowling discipline. A dropped catch notwithstanding, fielding, too, was excellent.

Credit to Royals’ planning that allowed the bowlers to settle down. The Royals skipper had a sweeper cover posted right from the outset, which apart from giving adequate protection to Jaydev Unadkat and Chetan Sakariya in Powerplay, somewhat crippled Nitish Rana’s – square of the wicket is his favourite area against pacers – stroke-play as well.

It wasn’t Shubman Gill’s night. The KKR opener struggled to get going and was dropped on six before a direct hit from Jos Buttler put him out of his misery. To make matters worse, Gill dropped Yashasvi Jaiswal on nought when Royals batted.

For Royals, Morris was the most successful bowler with 4/23 and got the big-hitters out – Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik and Pat Cummins. But going beyond the scorecard, Mustafizur Rahman (1/22) probably made a more significant contribution. The left-arm seamer guessed the pace of the pitch right, disguised his cutters brilliantly and managed to get some lateral movement even for his slower deliveries. Mustafizur strangulated KKR when they were looking to up the ante. And Morris benefitted from that.

Maybe, a top-order collapse in the last game weighed heavy on KKR, as they looked cagey in Powerplay. 25/1 in the first six overs pegged them back. Only when Rahul Tripathi came to the crease, did his side look to be trying to break the shackles.

Tripathi, however, would rue his call that got his captain out. A bowler’s back drive had ricocheted off Morgan’s bat on to the stumps at the non-striker’s end and there was never a single in it. But Tripathi called before repenting. Morgan by then had reached the no-man’s land.

Inexplicably, KKR sent Sunil Narine as a pinch-hitter ahead of Russell and Cummins – the two players who had the momentum from the previous game. The only reason for Narine’s promotion could be that the team management wanted to continue with a left-right combination but the decision backfired.

From Royals’ point of view, it was important to remove Russell early and coming in the 16th over, the latter still had a fair bit of time to wreak havoc. But Morris out-thought him. Russell positioned himself to hit a wide yorker, but he got a pitched up delivery near block-hole that prevented a free swing. A catch to long-on ensued.

Samson puts finishing touches

He had started off with a century in this IPL before regressing to his customary soft dismissals mode. It had irked Sunil Gavaskar even. On Saturday, however, Samson ensured that the bowler’s efforts weren’t laid to waste.

Buttler looked shaken after being hit on the helmet by a Cummins bouncer, and fell cheaply. Jaiswal followed suit. Shivam Dube and Rahul Tewatia got out attempting to play adventurous shots, when their job was to play second fiddle.

But Samson was application personified and when he plays like that, he looks a gorgeous batsman. A pull for a six off a Cummins’ delivery was the shot of the match.


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