Sanju Samson’s effortless six-hitting exhibition along with Jofra Archer’s magnificent all-round show formed the cornerstone of Rajasthan Royals’ comfortable 16-run victory over Chennai Super Kings in an IPL match here on Tuesday.Rated as the weakest among eight teams, Royals without a Ben Stokes or a Jos Buttler in their playing XI did most things right under skipper Steve Smith.
On a placid Sharjah track, Royals amassed 216 for 7 largely due to Samson’s 74 off 32 balls that had nine maximums apart from a solitary boundary.
He found an able ally in skipper Steve Smith, who opened in T20 cricket for the first time in his career and scored 69 off 47 balls without much fuss while making a comeback to competitive cricket after a concussion break.
But it was Archer’s four sixes off Lungi Ngidi in the final over that tilted the scales decisively with 30 runs coming off it.
Even going by the easy nature of the track, scoreboard pressure was always there and CSK still managed 200 for 6 with Archer (1/26 off 4 overs) swinging it in favour of Royals with a decisive 19th over.
Rahul Tewatia (3/37 in 4 overs) also needs to be credited for his wickets at the top of the order.
It was always a catch-up game for CSK and one imagined that their skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni would at least try and come up the order but he came at No 7 when the match was as good as over.
The night belonged to Samson, a man rated for his talent but criticised for his lack of consistency. He always has one or two incredible IPL days every year. Tuesday was one such day when he was at his brilliant best.
Piyush Chawla after a dream start to his IPL career was hit for three sixes in one over by Samson, all clean hits that landed several rows behind. His skipper also joined the six hitting competition hitting four himself adding 121 for the second wicket in just 9.2 overs.
What stood out was the minimum effort he used in lofting the straight sixes as the bat looked like a mere extension of his hands.
Chawla (1/55) and Ravindra Jadeja (0/40 in 4 overs) were targeted keeping short boundaries in mind and 95 runs came off those 8 overs from slow bowlers.
Just when it looked that a century was there for taking, Samson was holed out at deep extra cover trying to hit Ngidi for a six.
Once Smith was out in the 18th over, a total of 200 that looked so imminent after first 10, started looking distant. Till Archer decided to use his bat like sword and scythed through a hapless Ngidi, who lost nerve and length simultaneously. Four sixes and 30 runs finally proved to be decisive.
CSK did try at one stage with Faf du Plessis (72 off 37 balls) launching into Jaydev Unadkat (0/44 in 4 overs)’s final over hitting him for three sixes and seven in all.
However Archer bowled a lethal short ball that grew big on Du Plessis to close in the match with Dhoni’s (29 off 17 balls) three sixes in final over were in a lost cause.