RR vs MI, IPL 2020: Stokes hundred keeps Rajasthan alive, eliminates CSK

The win helped Rajasthan Royals stay on in the race for a place in the IPL playoffs. The result also meant Chennai Super Kings will not qualify for the playoffs.

Royals' Ben Stokes reacts after his match-winning hundred vs Mumbai Indians.   -  BCCI/IPL

When Ben Stokes is around, a special knock is never far away. The England all-rounder came up with a stunning innings (107 not out, 60b, 14x4, 3x6) at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, powering Rajasthan Royals to an eight-wicket victory over table-topper Mumbai Indians.

Such was Stokes' dominance that Rajasthan crossed the finish line with eight balls to spare, chasing a daunting 195. The result helped Royals stay in the hunt for the playoffs and also eliminated Chennai Super Kings (CSK) from the competition.

AS IT HAPPENED

Watching the recently converted opener complete his second IPL hundred with a huge six over mid-wicket off James Pattinson, and hit the winning boundary off the next ball, from the other end was Sanju Samson (54 not out, 31b, 4x4, 3x6).

The duo added 152 for the unfinished third wicket. Samson had joined Stokes in the fifth over after captain Steve Smith had played on to Pattinson. The Australian had accounted for Robin Uthappa earlier. The Mumbai fielders were sent on a leather hunt during the Stokes-Samson show, the two showing how to chase a stiff target without taking risks.

Stokes and Samson played some lovely shots and also ran exceptionally well between the wickets, keeping the asking rate in control.

Stokes had been criticised for not scoring briskly enough at the top of the order, while Sanju had been guilty of giving it away after good starts. On this night, it turned out to be a different script for both.

Hardik on the rampage

Earlier, a savage 60 not out off just 21 balls from Hardik Pandya (2x4, 7x6) gave a strong finish to the Mumbai innings, which had lost some momentum in the middle.

Off the last four overs, Kieron Pollard's men plundered 74 runs. The dramatic transformation began when Saurabh Tiwary (34, 25b, 4x4, 1x6) took 17 off Jofra Archer in the 17th over.
The England quick responded in characteristic fashion, dismissing Tiwary and conceding only three runs in his next over.

However, at the other end, Ankit Rajpoot and Kartik Tyagi were smashed all over the park by Hardik in a splendid exhibition of power-hitting. The two went for 27 each as Hardik took Mumbai to a formidable total.

READ | IPL 2020 playoffs race: Chennai out of playoffs race after Rajasthan beats Mumbai

It certainly must have been more than what the team would have hoped for when it lost its second wicket. Ishan Kishan (37, 36b, 4x4, 1x6), who looked in fine nick again, fell to a brilliant one-handed catch by Archer on the third man boundary, the Royals speedster leaping in the air and plucking the ball out of thin air.

Ishan, opening again in the absence of Rohit Sharma, had added 83 for the second wicket with Suryakumar Yadav (40, 26b, 4x4, 1x6), who became the first of leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal's two dismissals, the other being Pollard who was bowled by a beauty.

Hardik's blitz then seemed to have swung the contest Mumbai's way, but Stokes and Samson made it a night to believe for the Royals.

Stokes, Samson batted well - Hardik

Hardik Pandya said Mumbai Indians' bowlers were left with “not much options” against the marauding duo of Ben Stokes and Sanju Samson.

“Sometimes you have to give credit to the opposition as well, and I feel that they really batted well. Our bowlers had not much to do; it was their skills and execution, which worked for them...they were better today in batting,” Hardik said at the post-match press conference.

Hardik, who smashed seven sixes and two fours, said his team had enough runs on board and gave credit to Stokes and Samson for successfully chasing down the score.

“Hitting sixes is fun, which I enjoyed. I thought we got enough runs, initially when the second strategic time-out happened we were looking more at 165-170, and obviously we got 25 runs more, which I thought was enough but credit goes to Stokes and Sanju, they really batted well,” he said.

'Luck on their side'

According to Hardik, luck was also on Rajasthan’s side as multiple inside and outside edges flew to the boundary.

“They took their chances and I think even luck was there on their side ... actually multiple inside and outside edges went for boundaries. But having said that, they still played some outstanding shots, which I don’t think our bowlers had much options to do,” he said.

Despite the hammering, Mumbai sits at the top of the top of the table with 14 points and Hardik said the team should focus on securing a spot in the top two.

“I feel from this game we should rectify our mistake, and the other things we didn’t do and focus on the positives,” he said.

“We are still sitting at No. 1, we need to play a couple of good games and we should be focusing on getting the top two position and keep focusing.”

 

Smith praises 'magnificent' Stokes

Rajasthan Royals captain Steve Smith was pleased with his team’s batting performance during its contest against Mumbai Indians, but felt bowling and fielding could be better.

“We were a bit disappointed with our end to the bowling, we dropped another catch, our fielding hasn’t been probably as good as we like, but that dropped catch was probably 45 runs swing in the end,” he said in the post-match press conference.

“I thought our bowlers really did a good job through the middle, were taking wickets and then at the end after that dropped catch, Hardik [Pandya] just went berserk and seemed like every ball was going over the rope, so wasn’t an ideal finish,” he added.

Smith was, however, effusive in his praise for Stokes and Samson.

“I thought we started with good intent, Stokes was magnificent from the outset tonight and he took the game on, played really good cricketing shots and hit the ball hard into gaps,” Smith said.

“He (Stokes) always prepares well. He was suffering in a couple of games with a sore back, which is never good in T20 cricket, when you are trying to hit the ball hard.”

'Challenging'

Smith felt bowlers needed to show consistency and support Jofra Archer.

“It’s been challenging. Jofra has been magnificent for us in every game and bowling beautifully, we just need a bit more consistency from other guys around, trying to help him out,” he said.

“Our spinners have done a good job through the middle. [Kartik] Tyagi has been good for us and the other guys around just need to keep coming with good plans and backing their execution,” he signed off.

  Dugout videos