Englishman Jos Buttler laid the platform with a rampaging 89 while Shreyas Gopal held his nerve at the death to power Rajasthan Royals to a four-wicket victory over Mumbai Indians in an Indian Premier League encounter on Saturday.
This was Royals’s second victory of the season in seven games after losing a last-ball thriller to CSK less than 48 hours back.
Put into bat, Mumbai Indians rode on a aggressive 81 by South African Quinton De Kock to post an imposing 187/5, but Buttler’s 43-ball knock studded with eight fours and seven sixes set the tone before Royals survived a scare to finish the game in 19.3 overs.
The match was a forgettable one for young West Indies pacer Alzarri Joseph (0/53 in 3 overs), who was hammered for eight fours and three sixes and then got injured trying to save a boundary.
The 13th over changed the game’s complexion as Buttler smashed two sixes and four fours off Joseph to bring down the equation to a manageable run-a-ball.
Buttler first conjured a 60-run opening stand with skipper Ajinkya Rahane (37 off 21 balls, 6x 4; 1×6) to lay the foundation and then added 87 runs for the second wicket with Sanju Samson (31 off 26 balls; 2×4, 1×6).
Buttler initially played second fiddle to Rahane but then upped his ante once skipper was gone. The Englishman in the eighth over, hit Rahul Chahar for a six, and then in next over, smashed two sixes off Krunal Pandya as he raced to 50 off 29 balls.
When Buttler departed in the 14th over, Rajasthan needed 41 runs. But then came the twist in the tale when Mumbai did make a comeback of sorts sending four batsman—Samson, Rahul Tripathi (1), Steve Smith (12) and Liam Livingstone (1)—back to the pavilion as Rajasthan slumped to 174/6 from 147/2.
However, Shreyas Gopal (13 not out) and K. Gowtham (0 not out) held their nerves to take the side home in a tense situation. Gopal hit the winning boundary off Hardik Pandya to spark off celebrations in the Rajasthan camp.
Earlier, South African de Kock was the wrecker-in-chief as he hammered six fours and four sixes in his 52-ball knock and got able support from skipper Rohit Sharma (47 off 32 balls), who made a comeback after missing out the last Mumbai game due to a leg injury.
A late cameo from Hardik Pandya (28 off 11 balls), in which smashed three sixes and one fours, ensured Mumbai neared the 190-run mark.
Earlier, Rohit and de Kock took the opposition attack to the cleaners as the two added 96 for the first wicket. They started the onslaught in the third over amassing 18 runs with the South African hitting a six and four off Krishnappa Gowtham.
Then Rohit ripped apart pacer Dhawal Kulkarni, striking three fours, including a splendid cover drive, as Mumbai gathered 14 runs from it.
De Kock kept playing shots at will even as Mumbai reached 57/0 after Powerplay period. He then dispatched spinner Liam Livingstone for two sixes over deep mid-wicket as runs came thick and fast. He raced to his fifty in 34 balls.
Rohit, who struck six fours and a lone six, threw his wicket away giving a sitter to Jos Buttler off Jofra Archer.
And then Rajasthan made a good comeback removing Surya Kumar Yadav (16) and Kieron Pollard (6) to reduce the hosts to 136/3.
Rajasthan bowlers made a splendid comeback as they removed de Kock and Ishan Kishan before the Hardik show.
Meanwhile, it was Rohit’s 100th match as captain for Mumbai Indians (including the now defunct Champions League T20 games) and it was Mumbai’s overall 200th match.