Ajinkya Rahane: ‘We lost because of our batting’

Royals, placed fourth in the points table with 12 points from 13 outings, take on the resurgent Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in its final fixture.

Ajinkya Rahane (above) lauded his bowlers, led by Ben Stokes, for their effort in trying to defend 142.   -  AFP

Blaming the batters for its six-wicket loss to Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in a crucial Indian Premier League (IPL) encounter, Rajasthan Royals (RR) skipper Ajinkya Rahane said he still believes that his team can make the playoffs despite the odds.

Royals, placed fourth in the points table with 12 points from 13 outings, take on the resurgent Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in its final fixture.

Not only does it need to win the game, it also needs favours from the other teams to keep Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) and Mumbai Indians (MI) — both vying for a playoff spot, along with RCB with a game in hand — at the bay.

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Royals’ job would have been easier had it won against KKR at the Eden Gardens on Tuesday. However, a sensational batting collapse, coupled with Kuldeep Yadav (4/20)’s brilliance, undid it.

“We lost because of our batting, even in the tournament, we did not bat that well. Except for Jos Buttler... his consistency was good to see. So many things the boys can learn from him. We thought 175-180 was a par score on this wicket,” Rahane said at the post-match press conference.

Royals was all out for 142 despite rocketing to 59/0 in four overs, riding Buttler and Rahul Tripathi’s fireworks. KKR gunned down a modest target of 143 with two overs to spare.

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“The thing is, the start which we got with Rahul Tripathi and Jos Buttler was magnificent... but I feel after that we did not get any partnership. It’s not about any individual. We lost because we did not apply ourselves in the middle and we needed to get a partnership going, especially when you get a start like that, you have to back yourself. (You need) to apply your mind, even in T20 cricket,” Rahane said.

Asked about playoff chances, he added: “We have to believe in ourselves. It’s not about hoping, but believing in your ability. Anything can happen in cricket, we all know that. It’s a funny game. We have to learn from our mistake, we have just a league game left, we can learn from this game and stay positive... we were too positive with our batting tonight, but that’s the way it goes.”

Royals has been heavily reliant on England's wicketkeeper-batsman Buttler, who has scored five consecutive half-centuries, including two unbeaten 90-plus scores that helped his team stage a turnaround after being in the dumps.

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Stokes also underlined his worth by bowling exceptionally well against KKR with his figures reading 3/15. The pair, though, would leave for national duty when England take on Pakistan in the first Test at Lord’s on May 24.

“We will miss Stokesy and Jos. I am happy for Jos. As a player when you get picked in a Test team, it’s everyone’s dream that they represent their country in the longer format. So, I am really happy for him, but as a team, we will miss him, his batting and inputs,” Rahane said, when asked how the team would cope without them.

“We have 3-4 overseas players who are equally good. It’s all about giving your best on that day and I am sure overseas players will step up,” he added.

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Royals managed just 83 runs in 15 overs from 4th to 19th after the opening partnership was broken. Rahane lauded his bowlers, led by Stokes, for their effort in trying to defend 142.

“I cannot blame the bowlers, they bowled really well. When you have 142 on the board, the effort our bowlers put in was magnificent. I think it’s all about batsmen having to stand up right now in this important one match.”