Riding on the back of Buttler’s brilliance, batting first, Rajasthan put on a good total of 158 in their quota of 20 overs.
Opening the innings, Rahane and Buttler wanted to give Rajasthan a good start. Rahane faced another failure, as he got out to Tye after scoring 9 runs. Buttler held one end strongly. While the wickets kept falling on the other end, Buttler seemed to be playing in a league of his own. On a pitch where all the other batsmen were finding it difficult to touch the ball, Buttler was middling it with ease. It was Buttler’s innings of 82 off 58 balls that helped Rajasthan reach 158. Though he slowed down in the 2nd phase of the innings, he had already done the damage in the powerplay overs.
For Punjab, Tye’s performance with the ball was a stand out. In his 4 overs, he picked up 4 wickets and conceded 34 runs. It was just because of some mis-fields and dropped catches that Rajasthan could manage to reach 158. If Punjab had fielded well, they would have had 135 or so runs to chase.
Rahul and Gayle came out to begin the chase. Gayle returned soon. He got out to Gowtham in the 2nd over. With the fall of his wicket, began Punjab’s downfall. Rahul was displaying his class and skill on one end, and on the other end, batsmen were continuously getting out. Except Rahul, Stoinis was the only batsman to reach double figures. All the others got out for single digit scores that looked more like a phone number if seen on the scorecard.
In spite of all the odds and under such intense pressure, Rahul was just brilliant. He played a marvelous innings. Though he ended up on the losing side, he emerged a winner. It was his innings of 95 runs off 70 balls that kept Punjab in the game. Had it not been for him, Punjab would have lost the game comprehensively by a margin of 100 or so runs. While all the batsmen were having a tough time in the middle, he never looked as if he was struggling, While the wickets were falling on the one end, Rahul was knitting an inning of sheer brilliance and terrific skill on the opposite end.
His brilliance fell just short as Punjab the lost the game by 15 runs in the end. Had one batsman supported him for a short period out in the middle, he would have surely taken them home.
But as they say, cricket is a game of uncertainties. Before the match started, Punjab were the favorites and Rajasthan were being considered minnows. But the future had something else in the store.
Rajasthan won the game and kept their hopes of qualifying to later stage of the tournament alive.