Loss to Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in Dubai on Saturday (October 17), their sixth in nine outings in IPL 2020, left Rajasthan Royals (RR) with a clear but extremely difficult task ahead if they are to reach the playoffs: win all of their remaining five games.
Aware of the same, skipper Steve Smith, however, said his team must believe that it is still possible for them to make it through, they just need to keep doing the right things on the field for longer than they have so far.
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“I think we need to win our last five games to get to the play-offs. I think we are doing a lot of things pretty well and maybe just doing that for a little bit longer and backing ourselves in difficult situations. I think that is going to be important for us,” Smith said in the post-match press conference, as quoted by ANI.
On the day, AB de Villiers was once again the difference between the win and the defeat for RCB, as he struck 55 not out off just 22 deliveries to take them past RR’s 177/6, with two balls to spare.
None of the RR bowlers survived De Villiers’ end onslaught despite doing well in the earlier part of the run-chase. Shreyas Gopal (1/32), Kartik Tyagi (1/32) and Rahul Tewatia (1/30) picked up a wicket apiece.
“He (Gopal) has done a pretty good job in the powerplay for us. I thought it was a pretty good match-up against two opening batters. He got Finchy out in the last game and bowled really well today,” Smith said.
In the first half, RR made a debatable move of demoting their explosive opener Jos Buttler down the order and have middle-order batter Robin Uthappa go up. While Uthappa found his best touch with a 22-ball 41, Buttler struggled his way to run-a-ball 24.
Explaining the rationale behind the call, Smith said: “We wanted to have more experience in the middle with Jos. Jos is an amazing opener but he is also one of the best at the back end. Just give us more balance to the side.”
“Robin has done a lot of opening (in the past) and I thought he played particularly well this after as well. He got the team off to a good start and that was the reason behind it.”
“I think different opposition and different wickets will perhaps vary the (batting) order. I was quite happy with the order this afternoon,” he added.
Smith himself batted his best in the tournament so far, making a superb half-century (57) off 36 balls from No.4 in a rejigged batting line-up.
Fast bowler Chris Morris (4/26) was the pick of the bowlers for RCB while his pace partner Navdeep Saini (0/30) had an economical outing.
Smith’s RR next face Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in Abu Dhabi on Monday (October 19).