Stokes sizzles as Rajasthan ease past Mumbai
Sanju Samson and Stokes stitched a match-winning stand of 152-run
Swashbuckling Ben Stokes plundered an unbeaten 60-ball 107 and shared an unfinished 152-run partnership with Sanju Samson (31-ball 54) to vroom Rajasthan Royals to an eight-wicket victory over table-toppers Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League match played at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
The pair overshadowed a superb effort from Hardik Pandya (21-ball 60) to power Mumbai to 195/5.
Chasing the improbable total, Rajasthan opener Robin Uthappa blazed but mistimed pacer James Pattinson to be caught after 11-ball 13. Stokes took on the mantle smashing Trent Boult for four boundaries. Skipper Steven Smith joined the party by smoking Jasprit Bumrah for a six and a four. Soon Pattinson packed off Smith to end a 31-run stand.
Stokes in company of Samson carried on and struck his first six of this season coming after 123 balls – a sweep over midwicket off spinner Rahul Chahar. Stokes reached his 50 from 28 balls as Rajasthan made 99 at the halfway stage needing another 97 from 10 overs.
Bumrah and Chahar built pressure with tight spells to make things exciting. Stokes kept Rajasthan in the chase by hitting boundaries and Samson showed intent with a straight six off Pattinson followed by a boundary. Once settled, the duo scored heavily off Chahar and Bumrah. The Rajasthan pair made it a run-a-ball with four overs to go.
Rajasthan had earlier lost their way from such a position of advantage but not on this day. Stokes raised his second IPL century with a maximum off Pattinson and a boundary to grab the big result, which took them to sixth spot on the points table.
Earlier asked to bowl first, Rajasthan pacer Jofra Archer snared in-form Quinton de Kock (6) early. Mumbai still raced to 59 from the power play with Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav in the middle. Yadav, at 31, got a life as Tewatia dropped a difficult catch off Gopal.
The Kishan-Yadav pair kept finding boundaries with ease as Mumbai reached 89 after 10 overs. A one-handed catch by Archer off Kartik Tyagi ended Kishan’s (36-ball 37) innings and a fruitful 83-run partnership.
The Archer catch turned the momentum of the match. Rajasthan unit got pumped up. Runs dried up and pressure was created. Gopal then dealt a double blow by picking Yadav (26-ball 40) and Kieron Pollard (6) to make it 101/4 after 13 overs.
Against the flow, Hardik, at 5 runs, was dropped by Tewatia and the Gujarati made the most of the reprieve. Rajasthan had an upper hand with Mumbai at 138/4 after 17 overs and Hardik had made just 9 from 8 balls. Then Hardik banged 27 runs each from Rajasthan’s 18th over bowled by Ankit Rajpoot, including four maximums and final over by Tyagi, which saw three sixes and two boundaries.
Amid the blockbuster show, Hardik shared a 64-run partnership with Saurabh Tiwary (25-ball 34) and 30-run stand with his brother Krunal (3). The all-round contributions powered Mumbai to this edition’s fourth score in excess of 190 in Abu Dhabi but it wasn’t enough as Rajasthan strolled to the target with 10 balls to spare and keep their playoff hopes alive.
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