- Sinchan Saha | April 6, 2023 | 5:01 am
During their 198-run loss to Shikhar Dhawan’s free-scoring Punjab Kings (PBKS) at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium in Guwahati on Wednesday, Sanju Samson and co. gave superstar Jos Buttler a surprise batting demotion, leaving Rajasthan Royals (RR) with a mountain to climb. Ravichandran Ashwin, an experienced all-rounder who has experimented with his batting in the Indian Premier League (IPL), opened the batting for the Royals with Yashasvi Jaiswal, a young player.
Ashwin, who took Buttler’s place as RR’s temporary opener against Punjab Kings, failed to impress and lost four balls for a duck. The cricketer with street smarts became the first batter in the cash-rich league to be tactically retired out last year. While southpaw Devdutt Padikkal made an appearance as a middle-order batter, Buttler, who switched batting positions with Ashwin, walked out to bat at No. 3.
Even though it was obvious that Buttler would not start for the Royals, the RR think tank preferred Ashwin as a temporary option rather than promoting Padikkal, a natural opener. After the game, when asked about RR’s top-order strategy, Rajasthan skipper Samson said that Buttler had an injury scare while playing for the champions in 2008.
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“Jos wasn’t fully fit. He had a stitch on his finger. The thinking behind Devdutt Padikkal at No. 4 was we knew that they had a left-arm spinner (Harpreet Brar) and leg spinner (Rahul Chahar) who would be bowling in the middle overs. So, it was important for us to have a left-hander,”said Samson, who top-scored for the Royals against Punjab. The Englishman injured his finger after taking a diving catch of Shahrukh Khan.
In the 20-over match at Guwahati, PBKS scored 197/4 thanks to Dhawan’s stunning 56-ball knock of 86 runs. In answer, Rajasthan marshaled 192/7 as Samson and Co. lost the match by 5 runs. Padikkal ended up playing a frustrating knock of 21 off 26 balls, while England captain Buttler scored 19 off 11 balls. Shimron Hetmyer (36 off 18 balls) and Impact Player Dhruv Jurel (32* off 15 balls) staged RR’s comeback in the final overs, ensuring that Rajasthan can still win the high-scoring match.
However, PBKS won the IPL 2023 for the second time in a row thanks to Sam Curran’s heroics in the final over. The PBKS signing that set a record held his nerve and stopped 16 runs in the final over.
Rajasthan skipper Sanju Samson praised Jurel’s fighting knock against Punjab in light of RR’s performance
“The coaches have put a lot of work behind him (on Dhruv Jurel), we had a work week camp before the IPL, but the way they have worked a lot of time in our academies (during off-season), having faced 1000s of balls and I’m happy with the way they’re progressing. I was expecting the dew to come in the second innings, but it was evident that it was there right at the start. I need to be prepared better for such things in the next game,”Samson concluded.