Despair and dejection are the two words that come to my mind as I begin writing about last night’s game. Mumbai Indians traveled all the way to Jaipur for their match against the Rajasthan Royals at the Sawai Mansingh stadium. It was a crucial game for both the teams. They are in the bottom half of the points table and would like to collect the all-important two points out of most of their matches from hereon.
Mumbai Indians won the toss and they opted to bat first, as they have been doing in all of their matches this season, thus far. They were playing an unchanged side while Rajasthan Royals had a debutant in the form of Jofra Archer. Much had already been talked about him and it was just a matter of him recovering from injury and being match fit before he made his debut for RR.
Dhawal Kulkarni provided the breakthrough in the first over as he dismissed the Sniper for a golden duck. Suryakumar and Ishan consolidated the innings and played sensibly after the fall of an early wicket. It was wonderful to see Ishan back on the field after a freak injury he suffered the other night. It looked rather dangerous and many would feel he had a lucky escape as it did not hit his eye directly. Suryakumar played freely and scored his second half-century of the tournament. Ishan Kishan brought up his maiden fifty in this year’s IPL as well and the partnership by then was well over a hundred. As it is often said that one wicket brings another. This was realized it again today as both the set batsmen fell in successive overs.
Rohit Sharma, who now bats in the middle order in hope of giving the team the right balance, came to the middle next. He just pushed and called for a run resulting in his runout. Ajinkya dived and hit the only stump he could aim at. There was no run in it and poor judgment cost him his wicket. Some very good death bowling by Jofra Archer restricted the run scoring and boundaries were hard to come by on a big ground. MI who looked to get a big one settled for 167 at the end of their innings.
Krunal Pandya started off well for the Mumbai Indians by sending Tripathi back who had been promoted to open with Ajinkya. Mitch accounted for the other opener in the last over of the powerplay and match was evenly poised at that moment. Samson has been in fine form this tournament and has anchored the innings for the Rajasthan Royals on more occasions than one. Stokes got going as well and they were cruising towards the target.
Only a batting collapse would have got the Mumbai Indians back in this game and that is exactly what we witnessed. Bumrah bowled a magical over in which he bagged two wickets, those of Samson and Butler, and went for just one run. Fizz sent back Klaasen on the first ball of the next over. Many, including myself, believed that was the match for the Mumbai Indians. Archer and Gowtham swung hard at everything and in the blink of an eye, got RR at the cusp of an emphatic turnaround. A four and a six in the final over sealed the match for the Royals.
It was a disappointing end to a game which was evenly poised for most parts of it. The game looked to go MI’s way for a better part of the second innings only to see Gowtham taking the match away in a blazing fashion. It is strange for Mumbai Indians to falter at the death in the few close games which we have had considering that they have the best (death) bowlers in the business. It will only get tougher to qualify from hereon and the margin of error in the upcoming games would be very small. Let’s back our team, Paltan. We got this.