Dubai: Rajasthan Royals skipper Steve Smith has insisted on complete teamwork and ironing out on the smaller things going into their match against high-flying Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Dubai International Stadium on Wednesday.
Smith watched in awe as his team chased down of 224 runs to set a new IPL record while beating Kings XI Punjab by four wickets last Sunday. Led by Sanju Samson and Rahul Tewatia, the Royals hit 86 runs in the last five overs – another IPL record – to get an amazing 51 runs off the final three overs.
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“I was saying in the dugout; it he [Tewatia] gets one away, it will open the floodgates for him,” skipper Smith recounted later in the post-match banter in the dressing room.
“It was truly a sensational team effort to chase down such a huge total. If Sanju [Samson] played an incredible inning, I think Tewatia was unbelievable tonight. He should have got the gamechanger award. Of course, everything started off with Sanju,” he added.
“We pretty much know what we need to do as a unit. This is a typical example where every ball counts, and even if we allow ourselves a few mistakes along the way we have the capacity to come back strongly,” Smith stressed.
The Rajasthan Royals then went through a customary handing of the ‘pagdi’ (a colourful traditional Rajasthan headgear) that was given to Sanju Samson, who in turn, gave it to bowler Ankit Rajput in acknowledgment to the latter’s exploits with the ball.
Starting off as underachievers, the Royals have taken the IPL by storm with two successive 200-plus totals against Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab, respectively. Samson and Tewatia have both overshadowed the performances of overseas marquee players so far.
The Knights showed they were getting their act together in their handy seven-wicket win against the Sunrisers Hyderabad last Saturday. Leading them was young Shubman Gill with an unbeaten 62-ball 70 runs as KKR shrugged off their opening match defeat to Mumbai Indians to chase down their modest target of 143 with two overs to spare.
KKR have the biggest stars in Andre Russell to go along with reigning World Cup winning English skipper Eoin Morgan, one of the best in the limited-overs business. Wednesday’s fixture may see them both bat higher up in the order, especially considering the fact that Russell was the Knights’ highest run-getter last season with 510 runs at an astonishing strike-rate of 204.81.
Neither team have, incidentally, played at the Dubai International Stadium so far and Wednesday’s encounter will be a grand test for the batsmen on either side. Smith, Jos Buttler, Samson and Tewatia on one side and Gill, Russell, Sunil Narine and Morgan on the other.
Catch the match
Rajasthan Royals vs Kolkata Knight Riders
Venue: Dubai International Stadium
Start: 6 pm
Live telecast in Bein Sports