By Suhas Nayse – SJFI Member
ABU DHABI: Scintillating batting performance by Ben Stokes and Sanju Samson gave Rajasthan Royals a much-needed eight-wicket victory against Mumbai Indians in the Dream11 Indian Premier League at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
Stokes (107 not out) and Samson (54 not out) put on 152 runs unbeaten partnership to enable RR upset MI by a comfortable margin in the second encounter of the day. The fifth win in 12 matches has kept RR chances alive as the race for the playoffs is getting pretty interesting as the tournament approaches its business end. RR has jumped to the sixth spot with ten points. As many as four teams are vying for the fourth spot in the playoffs.
Despite the fourth defeat, MI have kept their top position intact with 14 points to their credit from 11 games. England’s star all-rounder Stokes and India’s up and coming talent Samson launched an attack on the MI bowlers from the word go to chase down a target of 196 in the penultimate over.
The 29-year-old Stokes struck his second IPL century, hammering 107 runs off 60 deliveries (14×4, 3×6). Samson, 25, carved out his 13th IPL fifty, an undefeated 54 (31b, 4×4, 3×6). Robin Uthappa (13) and Steve Smith (11) played little brisk innings at the top of the order as RR were chasing a run-rate of nearly ten runs per over from the beginning. After Smith’s departure, it was all Stokes-Samson exciting exhibition of powerful stroke-making.
Speedster James Pattinson picked up both the wickets for MI as rest of the bowlers failed to contain the flow of runs from the willow of Stokes and Samson.
Earlier, MI amassed a huge total of 195 for five after stand-in captain Kieron Pollard decided to bat. Hardik Pandya was the highest run-scorer as he dished out a blistering knock of 60 runs off mere 21 deliveries. The MI all-rounder walloped two fours and seven sixes to give the MI innings an ideal finish. Suryakumar Yadav continued his brilliant form by contributing 40 runs off 26 balls. Ishan Kishan (37) and Sourabh Tiwary (34) did well in the middle overs. Jofra Archer and Shreyas Gopal bagged a couple of wickets each.
On Monday, Kings XI Punjab (10 points) will clash with Kolkata Knight Riders (12 points) in the crucial encounter at Sharjah. Win will seal a deal for KKR while a fifth consecutive victory will put KXIP in the reckoning for the playoffs berth.
Brief scores: Mumbai Indians 195 for 5 in 20 overs (Hardik Pandya 60 not out, Suryakumar Yadav 40, Ishan Kishan 37, Sourabh Tiwary 34; Shreyas Gopal 2-30, Jofra Archer 2-31, Kartik Tyagi 1-45) lost to Rajasthan Royals 196 for 2 in 18.2 overs (Ben Stokes 107 not out, Sanju Samson 54 not out, Robin Uthappa 13, Steve Smith 11; James Pattinson 2-40) by eight wickets. Man-of-the-match: Ben Stokes (Rajasthan Royals).