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)
Royal Challengers Bangalore are beginning to get their act together and they will face another stiff test in their IPL 2019 playoff hunt when they host Chennai Super Kings on Sunday.
RCB survived a mighty scare in their last game against KKR after Andre Russell and Nitish Rana almost pulled off a monumental run chase in pursuit of 214. In a way, Bangalore needed that break as it was just their second win of a bruising season.
Chennai will be an even more challenging opposition as they do not rely on just one or two players. Bangalore wouldn’t want to recall the previous clash between the sides – the opening match of IPL 2019 – where spinners ran amok on a slow Chennai pitch to derail RCB’s innings for just 70. While a crumbling pitch was to be blamed for Bangalore’s performance, it was a sign of things to come with Virat Kohli’s side stumbling from one disappointment to the other.
All up to Kohli
Bangalore captain Kohli has been feeling the heat for some time. Questions were raised about his tactics after failing to win a single title yet still being retained as the captain. But when the pressure has been at the highest, Kohli has come up with the goods. Scores of 67 against KXIP and 100 against KKR secured the only two wins of the season for Bangalore.
If AB de Villiers doesn’t recover in time, it will be all down to Kohli and a resurgent Moeen Ali to provide the impetus with the bat.
While the Super Kings are on top of their game and the points table, the manner of defeat in their previous game against Sunrisers Hyderabad will be of some concern.
On a typically sluggish Hyderabad pitch – which suits Chennai’s play – CSK first struggled to a nothing score of 132-5 and then saw David Warner and Jonny Bairstow hit fifties in a facile chase.
They genuinely missed MS Dhoni in that game after the veteran decided to rest. He should come back into the team and provide some much needed guidance and lower order hitting. If Dhoni continues to remain out for what is thought to be an ongoing back issue, Chennai’s woes might continue.
RCB: Parthiv Patel (wk), Virat Kohli (c), AB De Villiers/Henrich Klaasen, Akshdeep Nath, Moeen Ali, Marcus Stoinis, Pawan Negi, Dale Steyn, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal, Navdeep Saini
CSK: Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni/Sam Billings (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Karn Sharma, Imran Tahir, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar
Both teams currently have 10 points apiece after winning five matches each so far from their respective nine games.
It was KXIP who prevailed over Delhi in the reverse fixture held at Mohali with the visitors losing their final seven wickets for just eight runs in a dramatic batting collapse.
Will the young Delhi side be able to make amends for that defeat or will Ravi Ashwin’s men take another big step to secure their play-off qualification? Find out by following the ball-by-ball action from New Delhi below.