Rajasthan Royals (RR) skipper Steve Smith felt middle-order batsmen Rahul Tewatia and Riyan Parag “showed great composure” under pressure in taking their team to victory despite the top-order’s failure against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in Dubai this Sunday (October 11).
In a closely-fought Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 encounter, RR found themselves 78/5 at one stage in the quest to breach SRH’s first-innings score of 158/4 on a slowing surface. However, Parag (42) and Tewatia (45) didn’t lose hope and stitched a fantastic 85-run stand to take their team through.
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Happy after RR’s win that also broke their four-match losing streak, Smith lauded the two players for their resolve, mental strength in the heat of the battle.
“I thought Rahul and Riyan as a young kid showed great composure. Stokesy obviously didn’t come off tonight. Or top four didn’t fire, but today showed our depth,” said Smith at the post-match presentation ceremony, as quoted by Cricbuzz.
The game also saw the return of all-rounder Ben Stokes in the RR playing XI. After delivering a solitary over in the first half, Stokes failed with the bat on being asked to open the innings, scoring just 5 runs before being dismissed.
Smith (5), Jos Buttler (16) had another poor outing and just when Sanju Samson (26) and Robin Uthappa (18) looked like they were getting RR back on track through a partnership in the middle, they both got out off SRH wrist-spinner Rashid Khan (2/25).
Smith acknowledged Stokes’ return and lauded Parag for his excellent performance on comeback to the side.
“With Stokesy back it brings a nice balance to us,” said Smith. “He’s been impressive, hasn’t he? Just thrives in pressure situations. You bring in his bowling and fielding to it and he’s a terrific player for us.”
“I don’t think it was the easiest wicket and the square boundaries are quite big too. So great composure from Parag. Proud that he could come back in and score some runs straight up,” he added.
Apart from Rashid, Khaleel Ahmed (2/37) and T Natarajan (0/32) also bowled well in the early part of their spells. But struggles at the death meant SRH failed to close out the match they should’ve.
Earlier in the day, scores from captain David Warner (48), Manish Pandey (54) and a nice cameo at the end from Kane Williamson (22*) took SRH to their total.
In ensuring the opposition didn’t get those extra 10-20 runs that could’ve made a huge difference, pacers Jofra Archer (1/25), Jaydev Unadkat (1/31) and leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal (0/31) did a fine job for RR.
The victory, only their third in seven outings, will give the team some breathing space as they strive to gain momentum from here and go deeper into the tournament.
RR next face Delhi Capitals (DC) on Wednesday (October 13).