October 26, 2020 11:46:29 am
A scintillating 59-ball hundred from Ben Stokes helped Rajasthan Royals beat Mumbai Indians by eight wickets and stay alive in the IPL. Chasing 196 for victory, RR won with 10 balls to spare. An unbroken 152-run partnership (82 balls) between Stokes and Sanju Samson took the game away from MI. RR’s win officially slammed the playoffs door shut on Chennai Super Kings.
Big Ben tolls
“I didn’t sleep for a week and my head wasn’t really in it,” Stokes was quoted as saying by Weekend Herald after his father Ged was diagnosed with brain cancer. He left the England team during their home series against Pakistan and missed a sizeable chunk of this IPL. His ailing father “encouraged” Stokes to return to cricket.
In the previous five matches, the left-hander had barely made an impact but on Sunday, he more than made up for a slow burn. His innings started with a flurry of boundaries against Trent Boult and the ton came with a six off James Pattinson. Yet again, he proved to be the man for the big occasion.
Spare a thought for Samson, whose 31-ball 54 not out complemented Stokes brilliantly. The latter created the space for Samson to play himself in and an excellent partnership ensued.
Hardik blitz trumps Jofra stunner
Earlier, Rajasthan Royals had managed to pull the game back for a brief while, riding on a Jofra Archer stunner. But Mumbai Indians have game changers aplenty. On Sunday, Hardik Pandya came to the party.
Archer made a one-handed grab with the leap of a goalkeeper, to draw a football analogy. Ishan Kishan had flat-batted a short delivery from medium pacer Kartik Tyagi and Archer had initially misjudged it. But his recovery was stunning, a jump upwards and back to take the catch at square third man.
MI were going at almost nine runs per over during the 83-run second-wicket partnership between Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav. Inspired by Archer’s effort, RR bounced back. Leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal dismissed Yadav and Kieron Pollard inside four deliveries in his third over and the game was on an even keel before Hardik exploded at the death.
Rahul Tewatia couldn’t hold on to a mistimed slog from Hardik against Tyagi when the batsman was on five. Tewatia had earlier dropped Yadav at sweeper cover, but this one proved much more costly.
It was Saurabh Tiwary who wrested the initiative for MI in the 17th over, hitting a couple of fours and a six off Archer. Then Hardik took over. Seamer Ankit Rajpoot was at the receiving end of his blitz. A high full-toss went over long-on followed by three consecutive sixes off the last three balls of that over. Archer bowled a brilliant 19th over, but Hardik was waiting for Tyagi. Three sixes and two fours, and another 27-run over took MI’s total to 195/5. Hardik motored to a 20-ball half-century.
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