Ajinkya Rahane: ‘Needed someone to bat through the chase’

Chasing 170 for a place in the Qualifier 2, the Royals on Wednesday were 87/1 after 10 overs with Rahane and Sanju Samson looking good for a match-winning partnership.

Ajinkya Rahane fell to Kuldeep Yadav in the first ball after the break when they still required 61 off 36 balls.   -  AFP

Stressing that it needed one of the top four batsmen to stay at the crease till the end, skipper Ajinkya Rahane said that with so many wickets in hand, Rajasthan Royals should have won against the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League (IPL) Eliminator, here.

Chasing 170 for a place in the Qualifier 2, the Royals on Wednesday were 87/1 after 10 overs with Rahane and Sanju Samson looking good for a match-winning partnership.

However, then it — particularly Rahane — got stuck against spin and left its weak middle-order with too much to do, eventually losing by 25 runs as it managed 144/4 in 20 overs. While Samson (50 off 38) was removed by Piyush Chawla, chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav got rid of Rahane (46 off 41).

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“We thought 170 was chaseable. We needed partnerships and we got those partnerships initially with (Rahul) Tripathi and then me and Sanju Samson. We needed a batsman to bat throughout those 19-20 overs and we did not do that,” Rahane told reporters at the post-match press conference.

“Unfortunately, Sanju got out in the 17th over and that was the reason I felt...when you are chasing 170 in a pressure game, you need a batsman from top four to bat through the innings,” Rahane added.

Rahane said that Andre Russell — who hit an unbeaten 25-ball 49 to propel KKR to 169/7 after a disastrous start — played fearless cricket.

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“We had the self-belief, I felt. Initially, the way we started with the ball. Our fast bowlers, the spinners...getting those four-five initial wickets was crucial,” said Rahane.

“Though credit goes to (Andre) Russell..the way he batted, played fearless cricket. Yet again, we started off really well. First six overs, we were 50/1, then after second timeout (14th over), we needed seven overs and 60 odd runs. When you have eight to nine wickets in hand, you generally end up getting those runs,” Rahane added.

Dinesh Karthik (52) and Shubman Gill (28) stemmed rot for the purple brigade after it was reduced to 51/4 at one stage. Rahane revealed that he had asked Samson during the second strategic timeout in the 14th over to play till the end, while he would look up the ante.

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Rahane fell to Kuldeep in the first ball after the break when they still required 61 off 36 balls. Two overs later, Samson departed. “I think our plan was to go deep. I just told Sanju after the second timeout that I will play some positive shots and if you are still there, you bat deep,” said Rahane.

“Credit goes to the KKR bowlers. Especially the way they bowled the last four-five overs. If you see, last 36 balls we got 30 odd runs. So, when opponents bowl like that, credit goes to them. We need to learn for the next season. We batted well in patches and were not that good enough throughout the season,” he added.

Asked the reason for sending Heinrich Klaasen and Stuart Binny ahead of K. Gowtham who can score at a brisk pace, Rahane said, “If you see Klaasen is a very good batsman. He did well in the last game and it is difficult when you don’t get those runs. and try and think what if Gowtham was sent to bat.”

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“Still, we backed Klaasen. He tried his best. KKR spinners were really good. With our batting line-up, we wanted to go deep and if Klaasen can come, they have seven-eight overs left, that was a perfect opportunity for him. Unfortunately, we didn’t cross the line,” he said.

“I don’t think the strategy was wrong there. Gowtham’s batting position..he batted well at No. six and seven...credit goes to KKR bowlers,” Rahane added.