An unbeaten 56 off 31 balls from Riyan Parag, laced with three fours and four sixes, lifted a struggling Rajasthan Royals to 144/8 against Royal Challengers Bangalore at MCA Stadium in Pune on Tuesday.
On a pitch that was offering some help to bowlers, Rajasthan's batters struggled to get going for a big score. But Parag held firm at one end and exploded, in the end, to lend some respectability to Rajasthan's score and give his bowlers something to bowl at.
Parag produced some eye-catchy shots, like whipping Shahbaz Ahmed over long-on for a six, followed by a four in the 11th over; hammering Josh Hazlewood flat over extra cover for six in the 19th over. He tore into Harshal Patel in the final over, heaving through deep square leg for four followed by a soaring six over extra cover to raise his second IPL fifty in 29 balls.
Parag finished off the innings by muscling a pull over deep mid-wicket to get his best-ever score in IPL. The 18-run final over was a rare blip in a flawless bowling performance from Bangalore, with Hazlewood, Mohammed Siraj and Wanindu Hasaranga picking two wickets each.
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Earlier, Rajasthan began with Devdutt Padikkal hitting Siraj over mid-off for a beautiful six. But three balls later, Siraj had the last laugh by trapping Padikkal lbw with a full delivery which the opener missed while attempting to flick and was hit plumb in front of the middle stump.
Ravichandran Ashwin made the most out of his surprise promotion to three with back-to-back boundaries off Siraj through flick and cover drive.
Ashwin punished Siraj in a similar fashion in the fourth over, cutting through point followed by driving past mid-on. Ashwin's joyride ended when he top-edged a pull back to Siraj.
Jos Buttler, who had struck three centuries in IPL 2022 so far, had a rare off-day, cramped for pull off Hazlewood and safely pouched by mid-on diving to his left.
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Captain Sanju Samson led Rajasthan's recovery, punching Hasaranga through point for four followed by a six over cover. Samson took a liking to Ahmed's left-arm spin in the eighth over, hitting successive sixes over long-off. He tried to reverse sweep off Hasaranga but failed and on the very next ball in the tenth over, Samson brought out the same shot, only to see his off-stump rattled.
Daryl Mitchell's struggle ended when he holed out to long-on on the first ball of Hazlewood's second spell. Just like Buttler, Shimron Hetmyer endured a rare off-day when he tried to slog-sweep a googly from Hasaranga and holed out to deep mid-wicket.
Trent Boult was sent back by a sharp catch from Virat Kohli at short mid-wicket off Patel while Prasidh Krishna was run-out. It took a scintillating finishing touch from Parag for Rajasthan to amass 30 runs off the last two overs.
Brief scores: Rajasthan Royals 144/8 in 20 overs (Riyan Parang 56 not out, Sanju Samson 27; Josh Hazlewood 2/19, Wanindu Hasaranga 2/23) against Royal Challengers Bangalore