Gayle’s 99 goes in vain as resurgent RR keep their playoff hopes alive

Tags: Indian T20 League 2020, Punjab XI Vs Rajasthan XI,50th Match at Abu Dhabi, Oct 30, 2020, Rajasthan XI, Punjab XI

Published on: Oct 30, 2020

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Punjab had put on a total of 185 runs on the board with Gayle falling just one run short of his century. Rajasthan made light work of the chase courtesy a quickfire fifty from Stokes and meaningful contributions from Samson and Smith, thereby ending Punjab’s dream run of five consecutive wins.

Steve Smith won the toss and chose to field first. Jofra Archer opened the bowling and struck gold straightaway as he bowled a snorter to Mandeep Singh, for which he had no answer, and could only fend it to the running Ben Stokes, who completed one of the best catches this year. The pace troika of Archer, Aaron and Tyagi bowled with a lot of fire, and Rahul tried to play them out with minimal risk.

Gayle however, was in the mood and smashed Tyagi for 14 in the 5th over. As the game progressed, Rahul too picked up the pace and hit some of his trademark pull shots against the pacers. Gayle was riding on his luck as he was dropped twice, off the bowling of Aaron and Tewatia, albeit both of them being really tough chances. The match was slowly slipping away from RR, before Stokes got them a much needed wicket in the form of the Punjab skipper, for a 41 ball 46. Gayle on the other hand, was in full flow and didn't even spare Archer. He soon crossed his fifty and his fellow countryman, Nicholas Pooran joined him at the crease.

Pooran wasted no time and smoked three sixes in his first 8 balls, but was caught well by Tewatia off Stokes. Even as the bowling in the death overs was impressive, RR couldn’t find an answer to the Gayle storm that had occurred today in Abu Dhabi. He was looking set for a century, but was bowled by Archer in the final over for 99, still his team had registered a commendable 185 at the end of 20 overs.

A loss in this game would have meant curtains for Rajasthan, and Ben Stokes was well aware of this fact. He picked up from where he had left in the last match, and just hammered the Punjab bowlers to all parts of the ground. Uthappa realized his job was to play second fiddle with Stokes putting on a show, and did just that. Stokes was severe on Murugan Ashwin as he smashed him for 16 runs in the 4th over. He brought up his personal fifty in just 24 balls but got out two balls later, though he had laid a perfect platform for others to follow.

Samson joined Uthappa, and the pair mixed caution with aggression to continue the chase further positively. RR were comfortably placed at 103-1 at the end of 10 overs, and Uthappa decided to take on Murugan Ashwin. He struck a sublime six but decided to again the very next ball, and found Pooran this time. Samson then took the charge with his elegant yet powerful hitting. With a six and a four against Ashwin at the end of 13th over, the match had more or less gone into RR’s control.

Just when it seemed to be a cakewalk, Samson was run out courtesy some fine work by substitute fielder Suchith. Bishnoi gave away only 2 in his final over to bring some hopes of a comeback. Jordan had also given just 4 in his first five balls the very next over, but Buttler hit a six to ease off the little pressure that was created. Skipper Smith made sure there were no hiccups in the chase, as he slammed three fours against Shami the next over. With just 11 required from 18, Buttler struck another six, before Jordan bowled a wide to finish the game.

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