Dubai: There could be no prizes for guessing that Rajasthan Royals must have been banking on the Ben Stokes magic to earn them a crucial two points against Sunrisers Hyderabad in the early IPL game on Sunday. At the end of it, they found their saviour in Rahul Tewatia again with a commendable supporting act by young Riyan Parag.
Ever since Tewatia pulled off that Houdini Act to help the Royals chase down a record total of 224 against Kings XI Punjab in Sharjah late last month, his 31-ball 53 will now be considered as a benchmark of sorts in the record of IPL chases. The spinning allrounder’s unbeaten 45 off 28 balls, albeit with help from Parag, showed his exploits with the bat in Sharjah had been no flash in the pan.
The 27-year-old, who had been a journeyman of sorts in the IPL till this season, had no less a challenging task on Sunday afternoon - with Royals struggling at 78 for five at one stage and the slow wicket in Dubai not making strokeplay any easier. Tewatia, as he revealed later, had a plan of taking their innings deep and chance their arm even if they had to get in the region of 50-odd in the last four overs.
The turning point came in the 18th over when Tewatia smashed the threatening Rashid Khan for three consecutive boundaries, with the first two coming from reverse-sweeps - always a risky stroke to attempt against the Afghan.
“The partnership was really great, as soon as I came to the middle, I thought of taking it deep. You also had a similar plan and we talked about it. We thought that if are required to score 40 odd runs from the final four overs, then we will have a chance. We were just clear that we will go after the ball which is there in our area,” Tewatia told Parag in a video on the IPL website.
“I thought about playing reverse sweep of the bowling of Rashid at the last time, it was not a pre-planned move. The second ball I played the same shot as I thought Rashid would not be expecting me to play the reverse sweep so that was pre-planned. The third boundary came as the ball was in my area,” he added.
Parag, adjudged as one of the most promising cricketers to emerge out of IPL 2019, hit his strides after being dropped for a couple of matches with an unbeaten 42 (26 balls) and figured in an unbroken 85-run partnership under challenging circumstances.
Royals, who are now sixth in the table with three wins, still have a long way to go for any realistic shot at the play-off berths. However, with the ‘Big Four’ now part of the squad and Parag and Tewatia bolstering the lower middle order for them, they could still live in hope!