Chasing 196 was a difficult task against a star-studded MI bowling line-up but Ben Stokes played a blinder and Steve Smith praised the Englishman's intent, which he found magnificent from ball one. Ben Stokes and Sanju Samson were involved in a mammoth 152-run-stand for the third wicket.
Rajasthan Royals created history as they recorded the highest ever chase against Mumbai Indians on Sunday in Abu Dhabi. More than anything, it was astonishing how easily RR, whose batting has struggled with inconsistency hunted down the target with eight wickets in hand and 10 balls to spare. The chase was set-up by Ben Stokes, who had shown his intent right from the powerplay overs as he batted with a strike-rate of 200 in the first six overs.
Stokes' onslaught continued in the middle-overs as well and he brought up his fifty off 28-balls before converting it into a match-winning hundred, which included 14 fours and three sixes and came at a strike-rate of 178.33. RR skipper Steven Smith applauded Stokes' intent from ball one and felt the partnership between Samson and Stokes was simply magnificent.
"He (Stokes) was suffering with a sore back in couple of games but his intent today from ball one was magnificent. I thought we started really well. Stokesy was brilliant from the outset, he took the game on and played some good cricket shots. Our batting was sensational. Sanju and Stokesy's partnership was magnificent. That's what we have been crying out for from our experienced players. (Before this game) Two batsmen haven't been able to put together a partnership. One of us coming might come off or none of us comes off. But when you get two players coming off and getting a partnership, you've got a good side. Hopefully they get confidence from that and keep moving forward," Smith said in the post-match press conference.
What made this victory all the more special was the fact that it came against the best bowling attack of the tournament - Mumbai Indians, which boasts of Jasprit Bumrah, Trent Boult, James Pattinson, and Rahul Chahar. Smith reckoned that the pitch was good for batting and given the big chase, the team had to attack even someone like Bumrah. However, he wasn't too happy with the fielding lapses that saw RR drop Hardik Pandya.
"When you're chasing 195 runs, you can't really afford to have too many overs when you don't score too many runs -- even against bowlers like Bumrah who we know how good he is, you still have to score off him. We have to play with such freedom and Stokesy and Sanju played brilliantly tonight."
"It was a good wicket. The ball was coming on quite nice. The score was very chaseable. We're a bit disappointed with our bowling. We dropped another catch (Hardik Pandya's) and our fielding isn't as good as we like. After that dropped catch, Hardik went berserk," said the RR captain.