The Rajasthan Royals climbed to sixth place in the VIVO IPL 2019 standings after they defeated Sunrisers Hyderabad by seven wickets in Match 45 played at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Saturday night. After Steve Smith had won the toss and opted to bowl, his bowlers backed up their captain’s decision and restricted the Sunrisers to 160-8. In the second half, Liam Livingstone and Ajinkya Rahane stitched together a rollicking 78-run opening partnership that laid the foundation for the chase; after they were dismissed within two overs of each other, Sanju Samson and captain Smith stitched together a 55-run partnership that took their team to the brink.
In the back half of the Sunrisers innings several deliveries appeared to be stopping on the pitch and one therefore got the feeling the pitch had slowed down. That could have been one of the reasons Livingstone and Rahane began aggressively; the pair went hard at the bowlers when the ball was hard and coming onto the bat nicely. Rahane set the tone; he opened his account with a fluent cover drive off Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the first over, and collected two more boundaries in the third over. In the fourth over, Rahane deposited Rashid Khan into the stands at midwicket. It was at this point that Livingstone joined in the party; in the same over, he too deposited a ball into the stands at cow-corner.
In the final over of the powerplay, Livingstone took 20 runs off Siddarth Kaul – courtesy two boundaries and two sixes – and raced to 32 from 17 balls. The Royals were 60 for no loss in the first six overs. The English opener was dismissed at the start of the tenth over when he edged Rashid Khan to the wicket-keeper. Two overs later, Rahane hit Shakib-al-Hasan down the throat of long-off.
89 for 2 at that stage, Sanju Samson and captain Smith (22 from 16 balls) stitched together 55 runs in 5.3 overs to take their team closer to the finish. Then Ashton Turner, who ended the sequence of five consecutive ducks, and Samson (48 not out from 32 balls) completed the job; Samson hit the winning boundary off Shakib-al-Hasan off the first ball of the final over.
For the Sunrisers, the three wickets were shared between Shakib-al-Hasan, Rashid Khan and Khaleel Ahmed. Bhuvneshwar Kumar conceded only 22 runs in his four overs but couldn’t pick up a wicket.
In the evening, the Sunrisers’ innings was of two parts. After Kane Williamson was dismissed in the fourth over, David Warner and Manish Pandey stitched together a 75-run partnership for the second wicket. Pandey was fluent with the bat and appeared to carry on from his unbeaten knock in the previous match; he dominated the partnership with Warner, who was very subdued and did not score a single boundary in his 32-ball 37. That partnership was broken when Warner was dismissed against the run of play; it took a special effort from Steve Smith, who ran several yards from mid-off, stretched full length with the ball still falling away from him, and completed a spectacular catch.
Pandey, who got to his half-century off 27 balls, was dismissed by a sharp piece of glovework from Sanju Samson behind the stumps. Attempting a late cut, Pandey edged a googly from Shreyas Gopal; Samson first pouched the ball and then timed the stumping to perfection. Though the TV Umpire ruled Pandey out Stumped, it was subsequently discovered that Manish had indeed edged the ball and the dismissal was changed to ‘Caught by wicket-keeper Sanju Samson’.
Then the second part of the Sunrisers’ innings; 121-2 just prior to Pandey being dismissed, the wheels came off immediately as SRH lost six wickets for 26 runs and eventually finished at 160-8.
For the Royals, four bowlers – Varun Aaron, Oshane Thomas, Shreyas Gopal and Jaydev Unadkat - split the eight wickets evenly. Unadkat conceded 15 runs in his first two overs, and then picked up two wickets for 11 runs in his remaining two overs to finish with impressive figures of 4-0-26-2.
Standout batting performances
Liam Livingstone, playing only his second IPL match, perhaps took inspiration from his opening partner to be aggressive early on. The Englishman, who had very little strike in the first three overs, hit the ball cleanly, repeatedly targeting the region between midwicket and long-on. He struck four boundaries and three sixes in his 26-ball knock; only two runs – out of his 44 – were scored on the off-side of the pitch.
Notable Support Act – Batting
Ajinkya Rahane, Version 2.0 – without the burden of captaincy, batted aggressively for the third time in three matches. He opened his account with a flowing boundary through cover and then collected two boundaries – one on either side of the pitch – in the third over. In the fourth over, he slog-swept Rashid Khan for a six over midwicket. After racing to 28 from 19 balls, he took a backseat as Livingstone opened up at the other end. He was eventually dismissed for 39; his 34-ball knock contained four boundaries and a six.
Stat of the Match
This win was Steve Smith’s 19th win as captain in the IPL. After this win, he joins Shane Warne as the two captains with the most wins after 28 matches as captain in the IPL.
Rajasthan Royals: 161-3 in 19.1 overs (Ajinkya Rahane 39, Liam Livingstone 44, Sanju Samson 48*) defeated Sunrisers Hyderabad: 160-8 (David Warner 67, Manish Pandey 61) by 7 wickets.
Man of the Match
Jaydev Unadkat, for his 2 for 26 and three catches.