Kings XI Punjab 184 for 4 (Gayle 79, Sarfaraz 46*) beat Rajasthan Royals 170 for 9 (Buttler 69, Mujeeb 2-31) by 14 runs
Kings XI had never beaten Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur. But R Ashwin, at the toss, said this team didn’t carry “excess baggage” like that and they showed it. With the bat they overcame a slow start thanks to Chris Gayle’s 79 off 47, and with the ball they weathered a Jos Buttler onslaught, with Ashwin himself running the batsman out when he was out of his crease at the non-strikers’ end.
At the time, Royals were 108 for 1. Then they lost eight wickets for 62 runs, going from outright favourites to downright fumblers.
(Universe) Boss mode
Gayle was 14 off 18 at the end of seven overs. And that’s credit to the Royals. They started with Dhawal Kulkarni, who has dismissed the West Indian three times in 31 deliveries in the IPL. Then came offspinner K Gowtham possibly because Gayle has a strike-rate of 115 against them in this tournament. And finally Jofra Archer, whose extra pace and skill at hitting a hard length (not short enough to cut nor full enough to drive) continued to keep the boss quiet.
All of that changed in the 12th over when Gayle walloped Jaydev Unadkat for four successive boundaries. And there’s a reason why he was able to do so. Each ball gave the batsman loads of width to pounce on. And when he fell for 79 off 47 balls, there was a telling break-up based on the line where the ball arrived to him: down leg 2 off 10, on the stumps: 13 off 10, outside off 64 off 27
Even when Gayle was at the crease, the highest score that Kings XI might reach, according to ESPNcricinfo’s Forecaster, was 180. They ended up with 184 thanks to a superb cameo from Sarfaraz Khan. The 21-year old may well have ended up with this team because they wanted to address the weakness that cost them a playoff spot in 2018 – a middle order that couldn’t match up to the openers – and on Monday, with an array of the most audacious scoop shots, he showed he is up to the challenge. he finished unbeaten on 46 off 29, including smacking Ben Stokes over midwicket off the last ball of the innings.
“The idea of peaking isn’t really an idea that sits naturally in my mindset,” Buttler told reporters prior to his departure to India. “Sometimes you hear people talking about going to another level. Why can’t you just stay at peak level?” Based on his last seven IPL scores – 67, 51, 82, 95*, 94*, 39 and now 69 – the answer to that question is a loud Y-E-S.
He has a fantastic eye. He’s strong driving down the ground. And he also scoops short balls – regardless of their line – over the keeper. All that meant the Kings XI bowlers just didn’t know where to bowl to him. With him 43 off 22 and Royals on 64 for 0 at the end of the Powerplay, Forecaster had them winning at 72.4%
R Ashwin was about to bowl the last ball of his spell and Buttler was at the non-strikers’, backing up. The offspinner saw it, turned around and calmly broke the stumps. The event sparked visibly heated exchanges between the two players, and prompted outrage , but it was, technically, within the laws of the game.
You show no confidence in yourself or your bowlers to get the job done so you resort to that ? #greatcaptaincy
— Jofra Archer (@craig_arch) March 25, 2019
Buttler was out of his crease before the bowler had delivered – which has happened before – and like then he was made to pay with his wicket. Meanwhile, Royals’ win probability dropped from 50% to 36% – all during the course of the six balls of the 13th over.
Tye gone, Curran on
Andrew Tye was the highest wicket-taker in IPL 2018, but he was still in Australia and unavailable for this game. So on came Sam Curran, who was bought for over a million dollars at the auction, and was walloped for seven boundaries in his first 12 balls. With Royals needing 39 off 24 balls, the England allrounder came back for his final over, dismissed the returning Steven Smith and Shane Warner’s tip for MVP of the IPL Sanju Samson – and virtually sealed the game.
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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