Rajasthan Royals captain Sanju Samson left the Punjab Kings think tank clueless with a blistering century, but just couldn’t clear the ropes on the last ball, leading to RR losing the opening game of the IPL 2021.
Royals were four runs short of what could have been one of the greatest chases in the IPL history, orchestrated by Samson at the top order.
Rajasthan were chasing a mammoth 222-run target against KL Rahul-led Punjab.
With five needed of the last ball and Samson on strike, fast-bowler Arshdeep Singh delivered the goods at a time when other bowlers were getting smacked for boundaries.
The pacer got the Royals skipper caught on the deep cover boundary and won the nail-biting contest for his captain who trusted him for the final over when Samson was in hulk-mode.
Samson scored 119 (63) that included seven gigantic sixes and 12 fours.
The Royals skipper got little to no support from the other hand. Jos Buttler and Riyan Parag scored 25 each in a jiffy but then returned to the pavilion.
As for the Kings’ pace cartel, Mohammad Shami and Arshdeep Singh stood head and shoulders above others.
While Shami sent back Ben Stokes for a duck in the first over, Singh kept Samson and co on the edge.
The Meredith-Richardson disappointment
Despite winning the contest, Punjab Kings have a snag to work with.
Rahul has to figure out how to settle in two 24-year-old Australian pacers – Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith. Both bowlers were creamed all over the park tonight as they ended up conceding a staggering 104 runs altogether.
They have the pace, length, and talent to deliver on the big stage, but none of that was visible tonight.
They kept bowling in the slot and Samson made the most of it.
The Punjab management has to get them into the rhythm as soon as they could so they can emulate their Big Bash League performances in the IPL as well.
Should the Royals reconsider the opening pair?
After days of speculation about who would be the two batsmen that will open for Rajasthan Royals, we got out answers on Monday.
The lefty-righty combo of Ben Stokes and Manan Vohra looked pleasing to the eye, but both failed to turn up on the night when the Royals needed a good start to the innings.
How the Kings almost dropped the match
Sanju Samson survived two catch scares and he almost made the Kings pay for it.
Rahul dropped a sitter while Mayank Agarwal let go of a simple catch as well.
One mistake that was happening quite often during Kings’ fielding was how none of their fielders were calling to claim the catch.
Rahul almost hurt himself as he collided with Shami to dismiss Stokes and Agarwal did the same with Shahrukh Khan. Even Jonty Rhodes was amazed by his side’s bizarre fielding display!
The Deepak Hooda show
After Rahul scored a brilliant 91 at the top, it was Deepak Hooda whose late blitz propelled the side to a big total.
The all-rounder smacked 64 runs off only 28 balls.
Coming into bat ahead of Nicholas Pooran, Hooda proved his worth as a power-hitter. He struck six big sixes and maintained a strike rate of almost 229 until Chris Morris claimed his scalp.
Rajasthan Royals 217 for 7 (Sanju Samson 119, Arshdeep Singh 3-35, Mohammad Shami 2-33) lost to Punjab Kings 221 for 6 (KL Rahul 91, Deepak Hooda 64, Chetan Sakariya 3-31) by four runs.