IPL 2023: Rajasthan Royals pays the price for failing to adapt to slow pitch on home turf

In the end, the Royals fell short by 10 runs chasing the modest total set by Lucknow Super Giants

by

Rituraj Borkakoty

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Lucknow Super Giants players celebrate their victory over Rajasthan Royals. — IPL
Lucknow Super Giants players celebrate their victory over Rajasthan Royals. — IPL

Published: Wed 19 Apr 2023, 11:16 PM

As they say in cricket, you can never pass a judgement on a pitch until both teams have batted on it.

The Rajasthan Royals bowling unit looked world-class when they restricted the Lucknow Super Giants to a modest 154 for seven in the Indian Premier League clash on Wednesday.

Few would have backed the Giants to defend that total against the Royals, who was back on its home turf in Jaipur for the first time in four years.

Even fewer Giants fans would have dreamed of victory when the Royals got off to a great start, with Yashasvi Jaiswal (44 off 15 balls) and Jos Buttler (40 off 41 balls) putting on 87 runs in 11.3 overs.

But when Giants got the three wickets in the space of 13 balls, the pitch suddenly started looking like a shot-maker’s nightmare.

When Buttler was dismissed with a striker rate of 97.56, the indications were clear that the Royals batsmen had a mountain to climb against a disciplined Giants attack.

In the end, the Royals fell short by 10 runs chasing the modest total, an astonishing result in the T20 format.

So what went wrong for the Royals, who remained top of the league with eight points on the back of its better net run rate against the second-placed Giants?

Hetmyer’s rare failure

Hetmyer (2) came into the match on the back of four spellbinding knocks – 56 not out, 30 not out, 39 not out and 36.

The West Indian has been phenomenal with the bat in the back end of the innings.

But on Wednesday night, he struggled with the sluggish pace of the wicket after being asked to bat at number five.

The left-hander mistimed his shot off Avesh Khan (4-0-25-3), who was outstanding with the ball, and was caught at long on.

Failure to adapt

The Giants captain KL Rahul, who had earlier made 39 off 32 balls and shared an 82-run first wicket partnership with Kyle Mayers (51 off 42 balls), kept his calm and marshalled his bowlers quite brilliantly.

But what eventually helped the Giants was the rival’s inability to adapt to the slow surface.

On a wicket that needed crafty batsmanship, the Royals big strikers failed to bat themselves out of the hole.

Questionable decision

The decision to send the hopelessly out-of-form Riyan Parag (15 not out off 12 balls) ahead of Dhruv Jurel at number six backfired.

Parag failed to find his range again.

And Devdutt Padikkal (26 off 21 balls) would have done better if Jurel had been sent ahead of Parag who looked completely out of depth against the quality of the Lucknow bowlers on the slow wicket.

Naveen’s dream debut

Naveen-ul-Haq is the latest player from Afghanistan to play in the IPL. The pace bowler did remarkably well as he kept the Royals batters on a tight leash with economical figures of 4-0-19-0 on his debut match in the world’s richest league.

The Giants think-tank replaced Mark Wood with Naveen for this game. And the tall Afghan certainly rose to the challenge.

Super Stoinis

Marcus Stoinis (21 off 16 balls and 2/28) played his part with the bat, helping the Giants cross the 150 mark with his 45-run partnership with Nicholas Pooran (29 off 20 balls) for the fifth wicket.

The Australian all-rounder then dismissed Jaiswal and Buttler, the Royals openers, to turn the match decisively in favour of the Giants.

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