Smith’s second half-century of the 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) proved to be crucial as Rajasthan recorded only their third win of the campaign while completing the double over Mumbai.
Batting first, Mumbai posted 161-5 with wicketkeeeper Quinton de Kock registering his third fifty of the campaign. However, the hosts survived a few late scares in the chase to coast home with five deliveries and as many wickets to spare.
IN-FORM DE KOCK CASHES IN
Rajasthan were given a roaring start with the ball with Shreyas Gopal dismissing Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma cheaply and the leg-spinner could have had a second in quick succession if Jofra Archer had not put down a straightforward chance at long on.
It was De Kock who was the lucky batsman with just six runs to his tally at that time and the Mumbai man made Archer pay severely by registering his second half-century against Rajasthan.
The South African had struck a fine 81 just a week ago in the reverse fixture and he was in similar mood again on Saturday in a 65-run innings that contained six boundaries and two sixes.
His 97-run stand for the second wicket alongside Suryakumar Yadav set up a solid platform for Mumbai ahead of the final five overs.
ARCHER’S ‘JEKYLL AND HYDE’ DISPLAY
Dropping de Kock early was just the start of Archer’s misery in the field with the pacer putting down two more sitters off Hardik Pandya’s bat in the death overs.
Both the dropped catches of Pandya came off the bowling of Jaydev Unadkat and the fact that the under-fire seamer was hit for a six off the very next delivery rubbed further salt into Rajasthan’s wounds.
It somewhat spoiled the good work done by Gopal and even Archer himself to get Rajasthan back into the game in the latter overs. The Windies-born bowler bowled superbly in the death with his four overs going for just 22 runs with the wicket off Pandya with a searing toe-crusher.
Yet, he will be filled mixed emotions after that display.
CAPTAIN SMITH, YOUNG PARAG LEAD RAJASTHAN
Steve Smith had struggled for timing throughout the 2019 IPL campaign leading up to Saturday’s fixture but the Aussie was a batsman transformed after being handed the captaincy.
The right-hander made sure to give the hosts a brisk start in the powerplay alongside Sanju Samson with 60 runs coming in the first six overs. Samson departed after an explosive cameo and Ben Stokes fell for a duck but Smith then found able support from 17-year-old Riyan Parag who came out with a positive mindset.
The teenager helped take the run-rate pressure off Smith and struck some crucial boundaries with the skipper taking a backseat. Smith brought up his second half-century of the campaign, taking 40 deliveries to get to the mark with his 70-run stand with Parag bringing the hosts close to the finish line.
Parag was ultimately run-out for 43 while Ashton Turner bagged his second consecutive golden duck but Smith was unwavering in his determination to see the hosts through with a fine unbeaten 59.
Mumbai Indians: 161-5
Quinton de Kock: 65 (47)
Shreyas Gopal: 2-21
Rajasthan Royals: 162-5
Steve Smith: 59 not out (48)
Riyan Parag: 43 (29)
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