Buttler ton, Chahal-Ashwin spin strangle take Royals over the line

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Rajasthan Royals 193 for 8 (Buttler 100, Hetmyer 35, Bumrah 3-17, Mills 3-35) beat Mumbai Indians 170 for 8 (Varma 61, Kishan 54, Chahal 2-26, Saini 2-36) by 23 runs

(CRICINFO) Yuzvendra Chahal and R Ashwin exhibited their mastery at a pivotal moment in the game to ensure Rajasthan Royals successfully defended a strong total, set up by Jos Buttler’s 68-ball century. This meant a second straight win for Royals and a second straight setback for Mumbai Indians, known to be slow starters.

This was one Mumbai would be particularly disappointed with because they were in control of the chase going into the last six overs, after Ishan Kishan and Tilak Varma hit half-centuries to leave them needing 65 off 36 with seven wickets in the shed. After that, though, they lost three wickets for two runs over the next seven balls against spin as the chase derailed. Kieron Pollard kept hopes alive by biffing a few blows at the close, but an excellent penultimate over from Prasidh Krishna that went for just ten – no boundary was conceded – left Mumbai needing 29 off the final over. Mumbai just found one more boundary as Pollard kept finding the fielders, before the match ended with Buttler fittingly taking a catch to remove him as Mumbai fell short by 23 runs.

The Ashwin-Chahal strangle
It’s unlikely the two would have been given four overs between them in the last ten overs had this been a night game. The absence of dew meant Sanju Samson could play around with his spinners and hold them back, and he did so superbly by bowling Chahal with the long boundary to the leg side, forcing batters to hit him against the turn.

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First, Chahal had Tim David lbw with a slider that fizzed through the deck in the 16th over. Off the next ball, he had Daniel Sams with a fine cocktail of dip and drift. Sams heaved it to the leg side and was caught smartly by a back-pedalling Buttler from midwicket. Chahal nearly had a hat-trick; it wasn’t to be because M Ashwin was put down by wrong-footed Karun Nair at slip. But, by then, the pendulum had swung the Royals’ way.

Only an over earlier, the 15th, R Ashwin had dismissed Tilak Varma for a 50-ball 61 a delivery after the 19-year-old had reverse-swept him for a six. Ashwin responded by slowing it down significantly and beating the batter in flight as the stumps were knocked back to elicit a roar and a send-off.

The Kishan-Varma partnership
Mumbai lost Rohit Sharma and Anmolpreet Singh early, but Kishan and Varma ensured they kept up with the steep asking rate by playing sensibly, especially at the start of their stand. They showed the maturity in knowing they had the games to accelerate later, thereby giving them an opportunity to set up shop.

From time to time, Varma picked the boundaries, and along the way also exhibited some languid stroke-making ability. The one off Navdeep Saini, which he punched on the up to clear long-off, was a stunner.

At the other end, Kishan was at his industrious best. Running hard, using his feet to spin, bringing out calculated hits without being reckless, and in the process, raising a half-century before Varma got there. The pair went on to add 81 off just 54 balls to set Mumbai up before they unravelled quite uncharacteristically.

Buttler fantastic, Buttler tactful
Much before the Royals spinners left their mark, Buttler provided a treat to the 15,000 fans who had turned up on a hot afternoon at the DY Patil Stadium. He was caught by a Jasprit Bumrah toe-crusher early on, but soon found his bearings when he launched into Basil Thampi for three sixes and two fours in the bowler’s only over, inside the powerplay.

Where Bumrah and Tymal Mills hit hard lengths, Thampi went full and was clobbered, as Buttler cleared his front leg and made merry. This forced Rohit to dig deep into his bowling reserves early in the game, and having Pollard cover up the remainder of the overs through the innings. Buttler was impressive against spin, too. At one point, with deep point set for the reverse, he outfoxed Mumbai by backing away outside leg to loft M Ashwin repeatedly over cover. Then, when deep point was moved to sweeper cover, he brought out the reverse hits.

He found some solid company in Samson, who got himself in quickly to make 30 before falling to Pollard. Shimron Hetmyer provided some late fireworks, laying into Pollard in his final over to disturb perfectly acceptable bowling figures until then: 3-0-20-1 ended up being 4-0-46-1.

Bumrah’s comeback
A week after a nightmarish start to his season, where his figures read 3.2-0-43-0, Bumrah bounced back in style, as his second spell late in the innings prevented a late Royals surge. The three best overs for the Royals batters had totalled 73 runs. Bumrah’s four went for just 17, and brought the wickets of Yashasvi Jaiswal, Hetmyer and Buttler.

Those of Hetmyer and Buttler in the death overs brought Mumbai right back in the game, as the Royals looked set to soar past 200, but finished with 194. At the break, Buttler said he wasn’t sure if it was a good score or not because of the short boundary on one side, but their spinners used the long boundaries to perfection to close out an impressive win.



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