Ajinkya Rahane, the Rajasthan Royals skipper, blamed his batsmen for the colossal failure after they lost an all-important encounter against Kolkata Knight Riders on Tuesday (May 15).
The opening duo of Rahul Tripathi and Jos Buttler got Rajasthan off to a flying start. The pair added 63 runs inside five overs before Rajasthan surrendered to Kuldeep Yadav and slipped to 107 for 7 by the end of the 14th over.
This has been the story for Rajasthan this season who have been over-reliant on Buttler. Apart from the wicketkeeper-batsman, who has scored 548 runs, none of their batsmen have been consistent. Sanju Samson (391) and Ajinkya Rahane (291) have been good in patches but have failed to do the job on a regular basis.
With 12 points from 13 matches, Rajasthan have to win their final league game against Royal Challengers Bangalore to keep themselves in the hunt, and Rahane urged his batsmen to take more responsibility. “The intent was positive from the team. Jos and Tripathi batted really well and when I went in I just wanted to carry the momentum forward,” he said after the match.
“Jos was batting really well and it’s not just up to him all the time. Batsmen will have to take responsibility. We have to blame all the batsmen and we lost because we played badly. The start with we got was magnificent. But after that, I feel we did not get any partnership. We lost because we didn’t apply ourselves in the middle while batting. Even in T20 cricket, you have to apply your mind.
Kuldeep Yadav on playing in front of Shane Warne
He is my idol and I wanted to do well as he was present today. I have followed him throughout my short career. I felt really happy when he complimented me for my performance. I will stay in touch with him. There’s an England tour coming up and I will keep discussing with him about my bowling.
“Through this tournament, I don’t think we batted well except for Jos. We thought 175-180 was the score possible on this wicket. Sometimes when you play like that, you get over 200. As a team, we have to learn from our mistakes here and go back to Jaipur and play well there.”
Kuldeep, who returned with the match-winning figures of 4 for 20, said that the wicket of in-form Buttler played a key role in their turnaround. “Jos Buttler has been in great form this season,” Kuldeep told iplt20.com. “He has been the man of the match in the last couple of games and has single-handedly won Rajasthan games.”
“He started really well in this match too. As a spinner, I was a bit under pressure because he was playing fearless cricket. I wanted to attack him and get his wicket because if he would have stayed for few more overs, he would have taken the game away from us. I kept a slip and placed just one fielder for the reverse sweep. I wanted him to try that shot. I bowled a normal slower delivery at first, and when he thought that I will do the same in the next delivery, I bowled a quicker one and it worked.”
Dinesh Karthik, the Kolkata skipper, too heaped praised on the 23-year-old left-arm wrist spinner. “Kuldeep is an international quality bowler and is one of the best chinaman bowlers in the world,” said Karthik, who scored a calm and composed 41* to help his team chase down the 143-run target with two overs to spare. “He is sometimes so confident that he ends up slacking off and giving out one easy ball. But he is very hardworking, always in the gym and if I can keep him consistent it is enough.”
Meanwhile, apart from defeating Bangalore in their final encounter, Rajasthan’s progress to the final four will also be heavily dependent on the other results considering their poor net run rate (-0.403). The road will only get tougher and tougher for Rahane and his men, who will have to collide with the in-form Bangalore at their Jaipur base without Buttler and Ben Stokes. The English duo will fly to join the Test squad and prepare for the upcoming two-match series against Pakistan
While Rahane had no hesitation in accepting that the team is going to miss them, he was hopeful the replacements would try their best to fill the gap. “We will miss them,” he said. “I’m really happy for Jos because as a player you dream of playing Test cricket. It’s everyone’s dream to represent their country. I’m very happy for them. We are going to miss his inputs and his batting. Even Stokes – his all-round skills and his inputs. He’s bowled really well.”
“We’ve got 3-4 overseas players who are equally good. It’s all about playing your best in that one game and I’m sure boys will step up. Whoever gets an opportunity will do well. We have to back ourselves, stay positive and stay together.
“Cricket’s a funny game, we all know, but we have to learn from our mistakes and get it right in the one league game we have. We still have a chance. We know how the wicket will play in Jaipur, so we got to learn and move forward,” he said.