RR’s Director of Cricket, Kumar Sangakkara, rued his side’s inability to build partnerships and claimed that there is a desperate need for the side to bat ‘smarter’ in the powerplay. After losing two wickets in the powerplay in each of their first three games, RR were reduced to 32/3 on Thursday.
The top three batsmen inexplicably throwing their wickets away inside the first six overs contributed to Rajasthan Royals finishing bottom of the table in IPL 2020, and the ghosts of last season are still continuing to haunt the side. After losing two wickets in the powerplay in each of their first three games, RR were reduced to 32/3 - which soon became 43/4 - on a belter of a Wankhede wicket and though the lower-order managed to post a decent total, the Royals were blown out of the park by a rampant RCB batting unit. Both Manan Vohra and Sanju Samson fell cheaply and softly for the third game running and Jos Buttler, like last season, failed to contribute in back-to-back games to leave the side in a spot of extreme bother.
The hideous display with the bat pushed RR to the bottom of the table, and speaking post the thumping defeat, the franchise’s Director of Cricket, Kumar Sangakkara, insisted that his side will need bat smartly in the powerplay. Sangakkara noted that RR are simply not stringing together big partnerships up-front and admitted that one of the Top four batsmen will need to step up and make a big score.
"Today was a game of two halves. We struggled through that first 6-7 overs and the next 13 despite having lost wickets, we still managed to get a 176 (177), so you see the ability is there, just need to build those partnerships and one of the top four, they need to get a big score," Sangakkara said at the press conference.
"To bat smartly in that powerplay is quite important, to keep those partnerships going and one or two of the top four really making those big scores but today we didn't manage that. But I thought the lower order really fought well in the late middle order and that was quite impressive to see.
Sangakkara described the lower middle-order’s fight back as ‘impressive’ and understandably so as from 42/4 in the 8th over, Rajasthan ended up posting 177. The man integral to this fightback was all-rounder Shivam Dube, whose place in the side was not secure prior to the game. Dube posted his highest ever IPL score as the southpaw went on a boundary-hitting spree to finish with 46 valuable runs that saved his side from embarrassment. Sangakkara heaped praise on the Mumbai all-rounder.
"I thought Shivam batted really well and showed a lot more intensity and awareness than in the other three games. You know, one of the things that he matches up well against is spin, and that's his real strength. And today he showed that he had that ability to really try and dominate the slow bowlers. He batted smartly I thought. Unfortunately, got out a little bit ahead of time. But by that time we were in quite a predicament after that powerplay."
But it was not just the batsmen who were culpable as despite having 178 runs on the board to defend, the Rajasthan bowlers looked defeated right from ball one. No bowler barring Chetan Sakariya managed to maintain an ER below 9.50 and some wayward bowling, coupled with exceptional batting, saw RCB knock down the target without losing a single wicket. Sangakkara said that his side have ‘a lot of thinking to do’ and insisted that the bowlers need to read the game better.
"Also in terms of our bowling to have slightly better defensive options to try and anticipate and read the game a little bit better to what the batsman might do. So we got to kind of change our thinking a little bit on that and have a little more tactical nous when it comes to executing the game plan. But it's about playing good hard positive cricket, enjoying yourself and really expressing yourself, that's the mantra here.
"But at the same time execution is really, really important, especially on wickets that are quite flat and it has to be a joint effort between the batsman and bowler and also the fielding. So we've got to get things right. We gotta get better really quickly. It's only been four games, but you know, games can go by quite quickly so we've got a lot of thinking to do. First recover quickly and then get back to play some good cricket that we know we can."
Rajasthan will take on a struggling Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday, and the fixture will be the Samson-led side’s last game at the Wankhede this season.