If you were a Mumbai Indians fan in the aftermath of the Jaipur contest on April 22, a dull number from a playlist would define your state of mind: Heartbreaker. But if you were a Rajasthan Royals’ fan, on the contrary, an exceedingly bubbly number would define you well: Thriller. Even as Ajinkya Rahane might’ve regretted bitterly seeing Jofra Archer claim only a single of a free-hit awarded thanks to the familiar sight of a Bumrah no- ball in the 17th over, he didn’t end up too embittered.
Rajasthan Royals claw back
But in a game that has no place for bygones and all the cheer for what happens in present-tense, brought out tense faces for Mumbai Indians and not Rajasthan Royals. What remained as the greatest puzzle though- perhaps unsolvable- for both Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians was how on earth did Mumbai Indians ended up on the losing side having bowled perhaps the finest 15th, 16th and 17th overs in Rajasthan Royals’ successful run-chase?
Rajasthan Royals keep their cool
Even as most of us love a final over finish in a T20 contest, even more so in the buzzing vibe of an IPL game, no summary of Rajasthan Royals’ exciting win fashioned by Gowtham’s once-in-a-match cameo could be narrated without praising Mumbai for bowling what was very nearly the game-changing overs from 15-17. How often, does one get to see an overs in the immediate aftermath of a powerplay going for lowly scores in a high-octane run chase?
The general feeling in the docile Sawai Mansingh from the onset of over 15 was about a silent admission of a Rajasthan Royals snub. You could see it in their dull faces. Mumbai, who earlier had demonstrated their might at unveiling a fantastic 128-run stand between Surya Kumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan, seemed tipped to snatch away the game with Bumrah bowling the way he was, having clinched both Samson and Klaasen off successive deliveries to send Rajasthan Royals on the back-foot. You clearly don’t rave for your favorite team- this being the winner of the maiden IPL edition- when biggies like Rahane and Stokes and an in-f0rm Samson have been sent back with only Gowtham and Archer remaining in the middle.
Bumrah, Pandya undo Mumbai Indians
But as the adage goes, you live by the sword, you die by the sword and this time, the blood that was shed was Jasprit Bumrah’s and Hardik Pandya’s, both of whom were among wickets; two apiece. In bowling wide and full outside off, Bumrah offered Gowtham toward the dying moments of the game a moment of great reprieve. You couldn’t recall having seen a more beautiful square cut toward the square region. Supple leg-work and excellent running between the wickets meant that 33 were scored from 17.1-19.1- this included rasp cuts and glowing on-drives, Gowtham doing all the good work at a time where faces had begun to look sorry.
The twist in the final over
In the final over, there came another twist, when bowling deliberately short, Hardik Pandya extracted a half-hearted heave from Rajasthan Royals’ debutant Jofra Archer who skied one to Pandya. Then came a magnificent boundary, in the form of a cheeky blow toward the third-man region, followed by a dot-ball. The equation now read- 6 of 3. The most brutal blow, though came on the fourth ball of the 20th over when Gowtham used the depth of the crease to muscle a marvelous six over mid-on, bidding Hardik Pandya and his Mumbai Indians a goodbye from the Sawai Mansingh. The fortress, for once had been resurrected, despite the game hanging in lose balance in key moments, noticeably when Rahane misjudged the length of a McClenaghan ball to depart for 14 and when Stokes yorked himself off an ordinary Pandya bowl for 40, finally looking in some form.
Joffra Archer’s galvanizing performance
But despite Mumbai’s royal thrashing at the hands of Rajasthan, their most memorable moment of the day came when at the back of an early Evin Lewis departure, young guns- Yadav and Kishan- joined forces and sent the likes of Kulkarni, Unadkat and, Shreyas Gopal packing. In a game that belonged to Rajasthan’s team effort saw debutant Joffra Archer justifying his selection claiming a vital three-for, including the prized scalps of Pandya brothers and McClenaghan