A stunning exhibition of ball-striking from Sanju Samson propelled Rajasthan Royals to a 19-run victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Sunday.
Samson’s unbeaten 92 (45b, 2×4, 10×6) led Rajasthan to 217 in 20 overs; faced with completing the highest successful run chase in the IPL, RCB fell well short, Karnataka’s Shreyas Gopal claiming two vital wickets.
After Brendon McCullum’s third failure in three games, much depended on Virat Kohli. The RCB captain seemed in the mood, unfurling some searing drives through the off-side, as he raced to a half-century in 26 balls.
Quinton de Kock and Kohli put on 77 (44 balls) as the home side made swift progress. But the South African’s dismissal, to D’Arcy Short’s part-time chinaman, allowed Rajasthan a foot in the door.
Kohli followed not long after, caught on the boundary, pulling a short delivery from Gopal.
When A.B. de Villiers fell to the same bowler for 20, in similar fashion, the contest was as good as over. Washington Sundar and Mandeep Singh made an earnest effort later on, but there was simply too much to do.
In the afternoon, a slow-burning Rajasthan innings exploded into life with the arrival of Sanju Samson. An atypically aggressive Ajinkya Rahane had fallen after miscuing an off-cutter from Chris Woakes, when Samson took over.
The 23-year-old from Kerala has looked Rajasthan’s best batsman this IPL; he delivered yet again, putting the likes of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler in the shade. Samson cleared the ropes 10 times, striking the ball with tremendous ease throughout.
Indeed, at one point he seemed to be dealing entirely in sixes; it was not until the 19th over, by which time he had produced eight hits over the fence, that he struck his first four.
Short balls were sent soaring over the leg-side boundary. Fuller ones, like two of Kulwant Khejroliya’s in the 18th over, were effortlessly chipped over long-off.
Umesh Yadav had a terrible day, conceding 59 off his four overs, while Khejroliya (40 off three) and Woakes (47 off four) did not escape punishment either. In fact, only Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal emerged with any credit among RCB’s bowlers.
Samson and Buttler added 73 runs (off only 37 balls) for the fourth wicket as the former, who had begun carefully, went berserk.With Rahul Tripathi later joining in the fun, Rajasthan hammered 88 off the last five overs, including 75 off the final four.It was an assault that would put the total beyond RCB’s reach.