Captain Steve Smith led from the front with a counterattacking 36-ball 57 and guided Rajasthan Royals to 177 for six against Royal Challengers Bangalore in an Indian Premier League match here on Saturday. Smith struck six fours and one maximum before Chris Morris bowled a brilliant final over, conceding only four runs while taking two wickets to check RR from going past 180.
Fast-medium bowler Morris finished with excellent figures of 4/26 in four overs. Batting first, Rajasthan Royals were off to a brisk start as opener Robin Uthappa (41 off 22 ball) launched into the RCB attack with a flurry of fours and a six.
Back in his favoured position alongside Ben Stokes after another change in the combination, Uthappa saw his team play two quiet overs before smashing Washington Sundar for four boundaries in the innings’ third over. Isuru Udana was pulled and then lofted over long-on by Uthappa for the day’s first maximum as RR raced to 38 for no loss in four overs.
Morris gave RCB their first breakthrough when he had the subdued Stokes caught down the leg side. Uthappa scored two more boundaries, off pacer Navdeep Saini, before his slow sweep went into the hands of the deep mid-wicket fielder off the bowling of leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.
Sanju Samson got going with a six that landed into the second tier of the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. But he also fell to Chahal, taken at long-off by Morris as RR slipped to 69 for three after a good start. On the lookout for quick runs, Smith found an ally in Jos Buttler and the two added 55 runs while steadying the ship.
Buttler fell for a 24-ball 25, but Smith continued to anchor the RR innings. Chahal, meanwhile, bowled two front foot no balls which were struck for boundaries by Smith, giving his team 10 runs and two additional deliveries. After RR scored 19 runs in the long 18th over bowled by Chahal, Rahul Tewatia hit Udana for a six and four to collect 15 from the penultimate over.