Rajasthan Royals (RR) opened their account in the season with a seven-wicket win at home over Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) on Tuesday. Opting to bowl first, a terrific spell from Shreyas Gopal helped the hosts reduce RCB to 158. A Jos Buttler half-century and a late flourish from Rahul Tripathi and Steven Smith helped them over the line in the final over.
Here are our best moments from the match.
Parthiv Patel takes on Jofra Archer
Jofra Archer is significantly taller than Parthiv Patel and has been among the fastest bowlers in the IPL since he first played last year. He is a trump card in the Rajasthan bowling attack and has been bossing batsmen with his searing pace. When pitted against Parthiv in Jaipur, the diminutive RCB opener decided to use that pace to his advantage.
When Archer was short, Parthiv bent low and upper-cut him through the third-man for four. Next ball, he was walking across the stumps and pulling him very fine for another boundary. The West Indian-turned-England seamer had a sarcastic smile on his face watching Parthiv's pyrotechnics but this was put to an end once and for all when the opener thumped him down the ground over mid-on for four two balls later. Archer had the last laugh, though, when he dismissed Parthiv in the 18th over but he had completed a fine half-century by then.
When captain dropped captain
Just one over into the run-chase, Rajasthan Royals were helped by a massive drop from Virat Kohli. Navdeep Saini, who returned to the starting XI, had shown that he could get the ball to skid off the surface. Soon enough, a back of a length delivery caught Ajinkya Rahane off guard and the Rajasthan skipper chased the ball with little footwork.
The ball caught the edge and flew to first slip where Virat Kohli was stationed. The RCB skipper dived to his right and got to the ball with both hands but watched agonisingly as it popped out of his hands. The skiddy pace of Saini had deceived Rahane and apparently Kohli too who did not anticipate the ball to come so quickly to him. He had jumped swiftly, but before he could clasp his arms around the ball, it hit his palm and flew out.
Yuzvendra Chahal's spell gives RCB a sniff
Yuzvendra Chahal has bowled four overs in the powerplay this season and has conceded runs at just four an over while being RCB's lone wicket-taker in this phase of the innings. Yet, with a low target to defend, RCB opted to go for all-pace in the powerplay and the move cost them as Rajasthan milked 55 runs without losing a wicket. When Chahal did come on, he removed Rahane off the fourth ball he bowled to give RCB their first breakthrough.
The leg-spinner conceded just two runs in his opening over before coming back with another three-run over and the wicket of Buttler. He also nearly had Steven Smith stumped in the same over. In his final over — the 16th of the innings — Chahal produced another chance when he forced Smith to loft straight to cover but Umesh Yadav shelled the catch much to his dismay. Conceding just four in the over, he finished with terrific figures of 2/17 in his quota of overs and gave RCB a chance of defending their meagre total.
Shreyas Gopal's wrong 'un love for RCB
Virat Kohli strode in alongside Parthiv Patel to open the innings to resurrect RCB's chances in the season and got off to a pretty good start. He put on a 49-run opening stand with Parthiv extending past the powerplay overs but was found out by Shreyas Gopal who nearly had him LBW with a googly. Rajasthan chose not to review the on-field call of not out but next ball, Gopal pushed in another wrong 'un to clean up the RCB skipper.
Next over, he used the googly again to induce a leading edge from AB de Villiers and took a neat return catch to bring Rajasthan back into the match. With RCB looking to stabilise things, Gopal brought out yet another googly to send back Shimron Hetmyer.
Incidentally, last season, in the match between the two sides at the same ground, Gopal had picked up 4/16 including the wickets of de Villiers, Parthiv, and Moeen Ali. In the fixture before that at Chinnaswamy, Gopal had sent back both Kohli and de Villiers to finish with figures of 2/22. On Tuesday, his 3/12 helped Rajasthan beat RCB in emphatic fashion.
Butterfingers in the death cost RCB
Defending 158, RCB had to cling on to every single chance if they wanted to restrict RR on their home turf. Instead, after Kohli dropped Rahane early, a slew of dropped catches in the death cost them the game itself. Steven Smith was on 23 off 21 balls when in the 16th over he took on Chahal over extra cover. The ball went straight to Umesh Yadav at deep cover but the RCB seamer shelled a sitter to give Smith a life.
In the penultimate over, Smith was put down again, this time by the substitute fielder, Pawan Negi, at mid-wicket. A ball later, his partner Tripathi was given a reprieve — Moeen Ali the culprit on this occasion — as Mohammed Siraj forced an edge on the pull. With the game going down to the last two balls, RCB might have been able to eke out a win had they held onto the catches that came their way.