Rajasthan Royals (RR) beat Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) by 3 runs in this humdinger played on April 10 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai
The 15th season of Indian Premier League (IPL) is rolling in its full flow with close encounters almost every day. The third week of the tournament saw the two new teams in world’s marquee cricket league - Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) and Gujarat Titans (GT) – scale the peak of the points table.
Let’s take a look at the closest game of the week which was between the inaugural champions of the competition, Rajasthan Royals (RR) and new side LSG at the iconic Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai held on April 10.
The latter were on a winning spree, gaining three back-to-back victories, while Rajasthan after an expressive beginning had just lost their first game of the season against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) at the same ground.
LSG captain KL Rahul opted to bowl
Lucknow skipper KL Rahul on winning the toss opted to field which has been a trend in the 2022 season of the league.
They welcomed their star all-rounder from Australia, Marcus Stoinis and pacer Dushmantha Chameera back in the side while Royals left out young dynamic opener Yashasvi Jaiswal for South African Rassie van der Dussen and handed Madhya Pradesh pacer Kuldeep Sen an IPL debut.
Super Giants paralyzed Royals to reduce them to 67-4 at the halfway stage
Royals opener Jos Buttler who has been in red hot form this season of IPL, began in the same mood along with young left-hander Devdutt Padikkal, as they raced away to 39 without any loss in just the fourth over, thanks to a flurry of boundaries.
But just after one dry over in the powerplay, Avesh Khan whom Lucknow bagged for INR 10 crores in the IPL mega-auction 2022, rattled the stumps of the England wicketkeeper batter for a personal score of just 13. RR captain Sanju Samson did start well but soon was adjudged LBW off Jason Holder. Krishnappa Gowtham, who had spent most of the time warming the benches in the last few IPL seasons, with his first ball sent back Padikkal for 29 before disturbing the stumps of van der Dussen for just 4.
After a decent beginning in the game, all of a sudden Rajasthan were struggling at 67-4 at the halfway mark.
Shimron Hetmyer smashed Lucknow bowlers all around the park as Ashwin did something extraordinary
The only thing RR were looking for at the time was building up a partnership and Ravichandran Ashwin who had done such stuff in the past, stitched a 68-run stand for the fifth wicket with Shimron Hetmyer. The India all-rounder though was fighting in the beginning, being on 9 off 14 balls, but picked the pace later with a couple of eye-catching sixes.
Hetmyer too, from the other end, began to slap the ball to all corners of the park. But something odd happened all of a sudden. Before the third ball of the 19th over, the camera found Ashwin going back to the dressing room finding himself as retired out.
It was a logical move that was praised all over the world. “It might work sometimes and it might not work sometimes.” Ashwin revealed later on. “We’re late but this will happen a lot.”
Nonetheless, the Hetmyer mad-hitting continued as he reached his fifty with a six, a feat he completed off just 33 balls. Riyan Parag, who joined Hetmyer after Ashwin’s exit, cracked a six as the Royals ended with 165-6 in their 20 overs.
Lucknow settled down after thunder ‘Boult’ in the beginning
Kiwi swing bowler Trent Boult provided Rajasthan the best possible start as a ripper of an inswinging jaffa cleaned up Lucknow leader KL Rahul, who got out for his second first-ball duck in IPL 2022. On the next delivery, the left-arm pacer trapped Gowtham plumb before the stumps.
It was Boult’s 12th wicket in the first over of an IPL innings, the most since 2020. From the other end, lanky India pacer Prasidh Krishna whom RR brought for INR 10 crores in a bidding war with LSG, got rid of Jason Holder as the Super Giants were limping at 31-3 after the end of powerplay overs.
After a mini partnership between Deepak Hooda and Quinton de Kock, the former straightaway tried to smack the ball out of the park but ended up gifting debutant Kuldeep Sen his maiden IPL wicket. LSG were further pushed back to 61-4 at the halfway mark, still requiring 106 from the last 60 balls.
Marcus Stoinis tried hard but Royals held their nerves
Soon, Yuzvendra Chahal came to the party removing young batter Ayush Badoni for just five. Lucknow’s hope still was with Quinton de Kock. But the left-hander too was dismissed off Chahal in an unlucky way by pulling a short ball straight to the fielder. One ball later, the India leg-spinner got the better of Krunal Pandya as LSG lost their seventh wicket for just 106.
The rest of the job was left to Marcus Stoinis, whom LSG won at a price of INR 9.20 crores at the auction this year. Chahal though in his last over, came back picking his 150th IPL wicket to finish the night with figures of 4-41.
Avesh Khan kicked off his innings with a six before Stoinis clubbed Krishna for 19 runs in 19th over to bring the equation down to 15 runs off the last six balls. The onus was on young Kuldeep Sen from Madhya Pradesh to deliver on his debut.
Young Kuldeep Sen did the job on IPL debut
Kuldeep won the game in the first four balls while spending just one run; he kept on changing the speed of the ball at different line and lengths to which Stoinis had no answer.
Later, even though, Stoinis smacked a six and a boundary, it was too late and little for the LSG as the Royals earned the all-important two points to become the top side in the tournament. But the burning question was, did the Lucknow management send Stoinis a bit late at number eight?
The two teams, Rajasthan Royals and Lucknow Super Giants will meet again on May 15 at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai at the business end of the tournament.