Wow. Just wow. I really don’t know what I can even say about this game. I know I said that the game against CSK was the best RR game in recent times, but I correct myself now. This game is the best ever RR game in the history of the IPL! The best. The absolute best. Oh, and I featured in it 5 times or so myself!
Before talking about the RR heroics, let’s just give some respect to the KXIP openers KL Rahul, and the centurion Mayank Agarwal. They stuck around till the end, and absolutely set fire to the field. On 9 out of 10 days, their efforts would have yielded a win. Nicholas Pooran’s absolute screamer of an effort while fielding also deserves applause. But who cares, this is RR’s special moment so let’s talk about them!
Firstly, the Rajasthan Royals dropped the youngster Yashasvi Jaiswal for an extra bowler Ankit Rajpoot. You have to feel bad for Yashasvi who deserved more than one game before being dropped, but you also have to agree that it was an excellent tactical move. On this Sharjah pitch, you can’t go with just 5 bowling options. If 1 bowler has a bad day, the batsmen will absolutely batter him. Of course, this move didn’t really work for RR and they still conceded 223 runs, but still.
Now let’s get to the hero of the game, RR’s batting. The openers Jos Buttler and Steve Smith got off to contrasting starts. Buttler looked pretty shaky, while Steve got going from ball one, and was hitting boundaries with ease. Sure enough, after a few deliveries, Buttler lost his wicket without making much dents in the total. Then came Sanju, forming the legendary ‘Chachu’ partnership (Sanju and Steve call each other ‘Chachu’, yeah it is weird).
These two players are just extraordinary. And even more so when they bat together. Sanju started off with a bang. No literally, his very first ball was a soaring six right out of the stadium! And that kept going. He picked up right where he left off in the last game. And so did Steve Smith! He is criminally underrated in the T20 format. He played with a strike rate of above 200 for most of the innings, and was unlucky to lose his wicket right after his 50. But what happened after Stevey’s wicket was what made this game truly special.
RR’s dugout had batsmen like Robin Uthappa and Riyan Parag. But they chose to send a pinch-hitter. Okay you may still say, they must have sent Jofra Archer right? Or Tom Curran? Nope. They sent in Rahul Tewatia! Now when I saw this, unlike other Royals fans, I was absolutely thrilled! Tewatia is one of my favourite players (albeit for non-cricketing reasons) simply because he wears my jersey no.4. Plus, he also batted exceptionally well in RR’s practice game. So I thought he would play a quick fiery innings, specially against the leg spinners, and completely tilt the game RR’s way. But he did the exact opposite.
Rahul Tewatia played like a nightwatchman instead of a pinch-hitter. I mean, the target is above 200, and here he is, defending on one ball, and failing to sweep the next. He really embarrassed himself, and his name was trending on twitter with Murali Vijay. Tells you all you need to know, really. At one point, his score was 8 off 19. His slow innings had exerted enormous volumes of pressure on Samson, which caused him to lose his wicket.By now, the game was too far out of reach. A mini Uthappa blitz got the required runs to 51 when 3 overs were left. But the game was over by now. Or was it?
Sheldon Cottrell ran in to bowl the 18th over. He was bowling to a bowling-allrounder who had been sent up the order, and had scored 17 runs in 23 balls, in a 200+ run chase. Easy money right? Wrong. Rahul Tewatia sent the first ball flying for six!
Oh, what does it matter now, he’s already blundered the game!
Nope he hasn’t, look there goes another six!
Nah, it’s just statpadding at this point, he’s already lost the team the game, now he’s just getting his own run rate up- wow that is a huge six!
This is unbelievable! Three sixes in a row, RR is back in the game!
Another one! Will we see 6 sixes in an over?! Rahul Tewatia, you’re an absolute beast!
Oh, a swing and a miss- another six now! 5 sixes off 1 over, Rahul Tewatia, take a bow!
A player who scored at a run rate of just 42 in a T20 game ended up hitting 5 sixes in an over. 2020, my friends, 2020.
After that, it was just easy going for RR’s finishing firepower. Jofra Archer started off exactly where he left too, with a six off the very first ball. And then again on the second ball! Tewatia brought up his 50 in style with another six, and the game was all but over. A mini collapse of 2 wickets did happen, but a calm boundary from Tom Curran proved to be the finishing shot of the game, and the shot which broke the record for the highest successful run chase in IPL history! RR broke their own record, how about that for a weak team eh, haters?
This RR team is just something else, man. I am telling you, they will go all the way. And games like this will give them confidence, which is the single most important thing in T20 cricket. What I liked about this game, is that the standout performer of the game was Mayank Agarwal. A KXIP player. Yet the Royals won the match because of the collective team effort, and because everyone stepped up. Personally, I could not have asked for a better start to this IPL, with 8 of 9 predictions going right for me, and my team Rajasthan Royals absolutely killing it out there in both their games!
My Prediction Counter : 8-1 (I’m applying for Proffessor Trelawney’s job at Hogwarts)