“Knowing the result I would go the other way and back Jofra (Archer)…,” Rajasthan Royals captain Steve Smith looked back on the 19th over that changed the course of the game after they lost against Royal Challengers Bangalore by seven wickets.
IPL 2020 POINTS TABLE
After an eight-wicket loss to Sunrisers Hyderabad Smith remarked, “I consulted a few other boys, it was talked about giving Archer another over up front but opted against it and in hindsight, after what happened, probably would’ve given him one more over. It was on my mind.”
With seven losses in 11 games, making it to the knockout stage seems to be more or less a lost cause for the Royals.
Even an unlikely turnaround in the remaining three matches would require the lady luck to be on their side, for the team’s fate now also depends on how the other laggards navigate on the points table.
In a mismatch on Sunday, table-toppers Mumbai Indians will take on seventh-placed Royals at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. For the pink outfit it is a do-or-die clash and the giants in blue will be licking their lips at the prospect of pouncing on the beleaguered opponents with eyes on fetching another two points and virtually seal a playoff berth.
Even in the absence of their captain Rohit Sharma, who is nursing a hamstring strain in his left leg, MI was as intimidating as ever when they drubbed Chennai Super Kings by 10 wickets in their previous encounter. Clearly, the difference between the two sides is the stability factor.
While Mumbai have largely kept their playing XI the same, Rajasthan have weakened themselves with constant chopping and changing to an extent that they are still on the lookout for a winning combination.
There is still no clarity whether Rohit will be available for the tie on Sunday.
In a format that heavily favours the batsmen, none of the Royals’ players has notched up runs consistently to feature even in the top 15 scorers this season.
The unsavoury piece of stats is a testimony to the team’s batting woes. Can Smith, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes rework their approach and challenge the likes of Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah? The last time both the teams met, Royals looked clueless, but if their coach Andrew McDonald is to be believed, ‘the teams that have nothing to lose are dangerous’ and Royals ‘will be looking to be one of those.’