Keeping their playoffs dream alive, Rajasthan Royals, led by Ben Stokes-Sanju Samson duo, registered an emphatic eight-wicket victory over defending champions Mumbai Indians at Abu Dhabi on Sunday. Hunting a colossal 195-run total, RR's run-chase was bolstered by the batting brilliance of Stokes and Samson. Both the batsmen were in sublime touch as they guided RR to a requisite victory with 10 deliveries to spare.
During their run-chase, RR suffered two early blows in the form of Robin Uthappa and Steve Smith, who were shown the exit door by James Pattinson in the powerplay. The Australian pacer's double left RR reeling at 44/2 while hunting down a mammoth total.
But after being jolted with two major blows, Stokes and Samson- known for their explosive batting prowess- kept RR in the game by several boundaries and running between the wickets. Keeping alive RR's hopes, Stokes also registered his first half-century of the on-going IPL edition.
Stokes' batting expedition didn't end there as he remained unbeaten until the end and slammed his second ton in the IPL history. The prolific all-rounder smoked 107* from 60 balls to snatch the victory off MI. He hit 14 fours and 3 sixes during his havoc.
Samson, after a string of underwhelming batting performances, also stepped up and delivered at the right time to assist Stokes in RR's impressive run-chase. The Kerala stalwart also remained unbeaten on 54, playing an important role in his side's heist.
After electing to bat first, MI had a shaky start after losing an in-form Quinton de Kock in the first over itself. Succumbing to Jofra Archer's pace and length, the South African southpaw had to depart after scoring just 6 off 4 balls.
However, after an early setback, the Ishan Kishan-Suryakumar Yadav steadied MI's ship with their vital knocks. While Ishan scored 37 off 36, Suryakumar stitched a 26-ball 40 to keep the scoreboard ticking.
Saurabh Tiwary also contributed with his brisk 34 off 24, which included 4 fours and a six. But it was Hardik Pandya's blitzkrieg which stole the show in the end. The Baroda all-rounder left RR bowling unit gasping for breath with his late fireworks. While hammering a 21-ball 60, Pandya hit 7 maximums and 2 fours to steer his side to a dominant total of 195 runs.
Archer and Shreyas Gopal, who scalped two wickets each, managed to make an impact with the ball. However, other bowling options were unable to curb Pandya's carnage at the death. MI grabbed 79 runs in the last five overs. But it wasn't enough to stop Smtih's men from clinching two vital points under their belt.
With this crucial win over the defending champions, Royals now have 10 points to their name by winning five out of 12 fixtures. They've also climbed up to the sixth spot in the points table. Eyeing a playoffs berth, RR will now face KL Rahul-led Kings XI Punjab on Friday at Abu Dhabi.