IPL

Royals roar back to stun Titans and stay top

By Sports Desk April 16, 2023

Rajasthan Royals retained their place at the top of the IPL points table with a remarkable backs-to-the-wall run chase to beat Gujarat Titans by three wickets.

The winners of Sunday's match would lead the competition through five rounds, with the big-scoring Royals in command coming into this meeting.

But their hopes of protecting that position were hit by the early wickets of openers Yashasvi Jaiswal and Jos Buttler in reply to 177-7.

Shubman Gill (45) and David Miller (46) had led the Titans to that strong total, meaning Rajasthan required an improbable turnaround after losing their two leading scorers and initially struggling to get going thereafter

Captain Sanju Samson stepped up with a swift 60, though, and Shimron Hetmyer got them over the line despite a fine bowling performance from Mohammad Shami, who added to the dismissal of Buttler with two more late wickets.

Hetmyer crucially remained in the middle and completed the comeback with his fifth six to finish on 56 off 26, with the Royals 179-7 with four balls remaining.

Titans take out Rajasthan openers

Jaiswal and Buttler opened together for the fourth time this year, aiming to build on the success of those previous three matches, all of which ended in Rajasthan victories. Buttler made fifties in each of those matches, with Jaiswal joining him on two occasions, too.

But both batters were out before the end of the third over, a wicket maiden for Shami (3-25) that reduced the Royals to 4-2. At that stage, it seemed the Titans had halted the reply before it had even got going.

Royals rally to another big score

Even with Jaiswal and Buttler contributing only a run between them, the Royals retained some spectacular batting power. They have scored 175 or more in every one of their five matches this year, showing the scale of the task for any opponent looking to take them out of the game.

Related items

  • Buttler tempers Archer expectations despite crashing return in Pakistan triumph Buttler tempers Archer expectations despite crashing return in Pakistan triumph

    Jofra Archer may not immediately return with the crashing impact he previously had on England, but Jos Buttler is looking forward to utilising the fast bowler after his lengthy injury lay-off.

    Rapid pacer Archer capped his first England performance in over a year with two wickets as England secured a 23-run victory over Pakistan in their T20I at Edgbaston.

    With the upcoming T20 World Cup on the horizon, England captain Buttler was delighted to have Archer back in the fold – but warned his workload must be managed.

    "I thought he was brilliant; you can see the emotion, taking wickets again, is fantastic," said Buttler, who plundered 84 off just 54 deliveries in the first innings to set the tone.

    "He's not just going to be the Jofra Archer of old straight away, but a really positive performance.

    "It's absolutely trying to get overs into Jofra but looking after him as well. I thought the whole bowling group was brilliant."

    Buttler's knock, which included eight fours and three sixes, marked the second-highest score by an England captain in a T20I, behind Eoin Morgan's 91 against New Zealand in 2019.

    On his own performance, Buttler added: "You always want to be playing well. I feel like I'm hitting the ball well, which is great."

    Pakistan appeared to be setting their chase of 184 up well as Babar Azam crafted a fine 32, along with Fakhar Zaman's quickfire 45 off just 21 balls.

    Yet the Pakistan captain fell lbw to Moeen Ali, with Fakhar then holing out off Liam Livingstone to Harry Brook in the deep as the visitors unfurled in Birmingham.

    "Mostly we are flexible and everyone knows their role," Babar said after the defeat. "Before the series, we decided to go with these roles, so we're clear.

    "The way Fakhar dominated after the early wickets fell. I think if me and Fakhar had batted for four or five more overs, then we could have won."

  • Van der Dussen warns South Africa only have 'one more chance' before World Cup Van der Dussen warns South Africa only have 'one more chance' before World Cup

    A disappointed Rassie van der Dussen warned South Africa only have "one more chance" to prepare for the T20 World Cup after suffering series defeat to West Indies on Saturday.

    Brandon King's side secured an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match T20I series after West Indies managed a 16-run victory in Kingston.

    Quinton de Kock smashed a 17-ball 41 as South Africa blasted 81 from their first five overs, yet ultimately fell short when chasing a target of 208.

    With the upcoming World Cup in the Windies and United States, South Africa captain Van der Dussen acknowledged his frustrations.

    "We let them get too much again," he said after the convincing defeat. "The spinners bowled really well; [Nqabayomzi] Peter, on debut, [was] brilliant.

    "Looking at the way [Romario] Shepherd bowled today, he was disciplined... It was really disappointing.

    "We have one more chance, and looking to bounce back [on Sunday]."

    Roston Chase crashed a remarkable 67 not out off just 38 deliveries to guide the Windies to an imposing total of 207-7 in the first innings.

    "Waited for the opportunity... Accustomed playing this role in the Caribbean Premier League," Chase said of his performance.

    "[Daren] Sammy spoke to me. The plan was to take it to 14 overs. Then we realised that the wicket was better than yesterday."

    Gudakesh Motie then did the damage with the ball, removing Van der Dussen on 30, as well as Andile Phehlukwayo (three) and Wiaan Mulder (nine) for his impressive 3-22.

    "It's an amazing feeling [to win the series]," captain King added. "Chase is very valuable. Very happy with his performance.

    "They had a good start. Finished well for us. Play really good cricket – that's what we are focusing [on]."

  • Sinner and Swiatek favourites for French Open success Sinner and Swiatek favourites for French Open success

    Jannik Sinner and Iga Swiatek are the favourites in their respective draws to triumph at the French Open.

    That is according to Stats Perform's Win Probability Model, which saw Swiatek regain her Roland-Garros crown in 20 per cent of simulations, ahead of nearest challenger Elena Rybakina (nine per cent).

    The Pole is aiming to become the third player in the Open Era to win the women's singles title at Roland-Garros for three consecutive years, after Monica Seles (1990-92) and Justine Henin (2005-07).

    Swiatek claimed a third women’s singles title at Roland-Garros from five appearances in the main draw at the event. In the Open Era, only Margaret Court (three out of four, 75 per cent) holds a better title win rate from main draws entered at the tournament.

    In the men's competition, Sinner is the narrow favourite in Stats Perform's predictions, with his 13 per cent chance just clear of Novak Djokovic's 10.

    Sinner has the highest winning percentage of any player so far in 2024 (93.3 per cent, 28-2), though third-favourite Carlos Alcaraz still has a six per cent likelihood of winning in Paris.

    World number three Alcaraz has yet to reach a French Open final, but is the youngest player in the Open Era to reach the round of 16 at seven consecutive majors.

    Meanwhile, Djokovic is out to overtake Court's record of 24 majors and become the outright leader for grand slam titles across men's and women's singles events.

    Aged 36 years and 20 days, Djokovic became the oldest winner of the men's singles at Roland-Garros in the Open Era when he triumphed last year.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.