Crescent Kashmir

LSG outwit RR in low-scoring contest

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Marcus Stonis’s all-round efforts (a 16-ball 21 & 2-28) helped Lucknow Super Giants secure a 10-run win over Rajasthan Royals, in Jaipur, to retain the second spot on the points table. After posting 154 for 7, courtesy Kyle Mayers’ half-century and Nicholas Pooran’s late blitz, the visitors restricted Royals to 144 for 6, despite an 87-run opening stand by Jos Buttler and Yashasvi Jaiswal.

The KL-Mayers stand

Lucknow Super Giants’ start was extremely slow. Trent Boult’s tight lines notwithstanding, KL Rahul and Kyle Mayers didn’t attempt too many attacking strokes. The left-arm pacer bowled 11 dot balls in his first two overs. The openers managed only 37 runs in the powerplay, with the former going at run-a-ball 17 and the latter even slower – 18-ball 16. It was the lowest score registered in the powerplay without the loss of a wicket in IPL 2023.

On a pitch that stayed low despite being hard on the surface, shot-making was difficult. The duo brought up their half-century stand in 46 balls, but then broke free for a few overs. Mayers flatbatted Jason Holder for a six over the long off boundary and followed it up by off-driving Chahal for another maximum in the next over. KL Rahul also joined his opening partner in the attack, by hitting a boundary and a six in those two overs.

By the time the duo was separated – when Rahul holed out to Buttler at long on, after being put down twice earlier in the innings (on 6 and 12) – LSG had picked up pace, at 82 for 1 in 10.4 overs.

A brief stumble

In a space of 20 balls, Rajasthan Royals struck four times. Following Rahul’s dismissal, Boult returned to bowl his final over and cleaned up Ayush Badoni, who missed out on a lap shot. Ashwin then struck twice in an over, having Deepak Hooda caught at deep midwicket and cleaning up Mayers, reducing LSG to 104 for 4 in 14 overs. Boult, who had finished his spell by then, returned figures of 1 for 16.

Late acceleration

While most batters struggled to get going early on, Stonis got off the mark by reverse-sweeping Ashwin for a boundary. The hard-hitting Australian was able to rotate the strike easily but Nicholas Pooran, his partner at the other end, struggled for the majority of his stay.

However, Pooran turned it around in the penultimate over when he took down Jason Holder, hammering his fellow West Indian for two boundaries and a six in a 17-run over.

The Buttler-Jaiswal stand

With what seemed like a below-par total, Jos Buttler and Yashasvi Jaiswal were content in going slow early on. While Jaiswal managed only 1 run in his first five balls, Buttler was pacing at 5 runs in 14 balls before cracking his first boundary. While both the batters took some risks, and even managed 47 runs in the powerplay, they seemed in little difficulty.

Barring one thick edge off Jaiswal that was dropped by Naveen ul haq at short third while he was batting on 22, in the sixth over, there wasn’t much threat from the bowlers on a slowish wicket. The duo went on to add 87 runs for the opening wicket before the southpaw was eventually dismissed in the 12th over, cutting to Avesh at short third. Even at that point, Buttler was comfortably cruising at run-a-ball 35.

Stonis triggers a stumble

The stutter started with the fall of Sanju Samson, who was short of his crease while attempting a quick single amidst some miscommunication over the run with his partner, Buttler. The opener followed soon after, getting caught at deep midwicket.

Hard lengths with slower balls worked well on the surface that was playing slow and low, not allowing the batters to time their shots well, especially with one end of the boundary being extremely long. Stoinis used that to good effect, and bagged the wickets of the LSG openers.

The tactic allowed LSG to strangle RR’s scoring and even paved the way for the wickets of batters who went early in their shots, like Shimron Hetmyer a couple of overs later, when he top-edged an Avesh delivery to Rahul at long on. LSG also slipped to a similar position – 104 for 4 – but in 15.1 overs.

The late surge that never came.

Devdutt Padikkal, who was brought in as an Impact Substitute, smashed Stonis for three boundaries in this final over, but Riyan Parag’s struggles from the other end didn’t help. The required rate kept climbing quickly, and despite three boundaries off Stoinis’s last over, RR were left needing 19 runs in the final over.

With an additional fielder inside the 30-yard circle due to LSG’s slow over rate, Avesh Khan was up against a nervy challenge which he aced despite getting hit for a boundary off the first ball. He had Padikkal caught behind and Dhruv Jorel caught at long on to end RR’s hopes.

Brief Scores: Lucknow Super Giants 154/7 in 20 overs(Kyle Mayers 51, KL Rahul 39; R Ashwin 2-23) beat Rajasthan Royals 144/6 in 20 overs (Yashasvi Jaiswal 44, Jos Buttler 40; Avesh Khan 3-25, Marcus Stoinis 2-28) by 10 runs

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