IPL 2024: Sanju Samson gets one over KL Rahul in battle of keeper-batsmen as RR get off to winning start at home | Ipl News

LSG batter KL Rahul plays a shot as Rajasthan Royals keeper Sanju Samson watches during the IPL 2024 T20 match in Jaipur. (PTI Photo)

RR vs LSG, IPL 2024 Synopsis: Sanju Samson got the better of KL Rahul in a battle of keeper-batsmen. A score of 193 was always a bit too much on an indifferent pitch, and once Lucknow were rocked early, Rajasthan were always favourites to start their campaign with a win.

Samson still finds himself in the national scheme of things – judging by his inclusion in the BCCI central contracts list. But Samson has repeatedly flattered to deceive in national colours, and as far as a confirmed spot in the India first-choice playing XI, that ship may have sailed.

But the IPL is his stage and Samson has flourished on it. On Sunday at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur, Rajasthan Royals skipper Samson upstaged his Lucknow Super Giants counterpart and fellow batsman-wicketkeeper Rahul to fashion a 20-run win.

Samson came to the middle after the early dismissal of Jos Buttler and immediately seemed at home. There was the small matter of redressing the poor home record last season when the Royals won just one of their five matches at the venue. The unbeaten 82 off 52 balls seemed as controlled as if almost comfortable. Pace or spin, short or full, was dealt without much fuss and Samson took Royals to a score that was above par on the surface. Three fours and six sixes were the result of great placement, timing and judgement.

Meanwhile, Rahul had a trial by fire at the start of his innings as LSG were three down quickly. But building an innings is second nature to him and first with Deepak Hooda and then with Nicholas Pooran, he took his team to a situation where they had an even chance with 49 to get off the last four overs. An innings of 58 off 44 balls may not be exceptional when the team is chasing 194, but it was the need of the hour, and Rahul showed in flashes that he has it in him to raise the tempo. Had it not been for a miserly spell by medium pacer Sandeep Sharma at the death, Rahul’s effort may have reaped dividends.

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Bouncers make an impact

Two bouncers per over were expected to sort out the men from the boys when it came to dealing with short-pitched bowling. Trent Boult and Nandre Burger proved the assertion right when Devdutt Padikkal and even the experienced KL Rahul wore blows on the body from the Rajasthan Royals left-arm pacers. Rahul was good enough not to be rattled and hit the next one, pitched up, over mid-off for four. But Ayush Badoni and Padikkal were clearly not used to the pace.

Boult is known to get wickets inside the Powerplay. But that’s with getting the ball up and swinging. The first ball that Padikkal faced, coming in after the early dismissal of Quinton de Kock, came in from Boult’s left arm. The next one was much shorter, and seemed a lot quicker too, Padikkal went for the pull but with bent knees. The eyes were not on the ball which made contact with the grille of the helmet, with the batsman visibly shaken.

That had an effect next ball. The left-hander was perhaps expecting another short one and went for a premeditated pull, to one which was too full and kept a bit low, and was bowled.

As far as Badoni, he seemed to have been unnerved by what preceded him. The right-hander failed to hit the first few balls he faced, from Boult, off the square. When it was time to face the much taller and quicker Burger, Badoni was reluctant to get on the front foot, even when the ball was up there. A tame catch off a full ball was the result, leaving LSG 11/3, and always behind the eight-ball.

Parag’s mixed outing

For a player who hasn’t played for his country, Riyan Parag generates a lot of social media traffic during the IPL. Not that he has set the world alight during the tournament over the years. Quite the opposite, in fact. Fans were often left wondering how the Assam player kept his spot in the playing XI while more pedigreed cricketers kept coming in and going out. And 2024 could be a make-or-break season for him.

It would have been a case of ‘same old, same old’ had it not been for his skipper Samson coming in the way of a simple caught-and-bowled opportunity for Krunal Pandya. Parag later benefitted when Mohsin Khan failed to get a finger on a skier.

But Parag is nothing if not confident in his ability and was coming off a prolific domestic season. After dealing in singles and an odd brace, a Yash Thakur long hop gave him the opportunity to hit one over cow corner for a six. The next ball was top-edged, but luckily for Parag, landed in no-man’s land. When Ravi Bishnoi offered a favourable length, a slog-sweep went way over the boundary.

As the final few overs approached, a more proactive approach was needed and Naveen-ul-Haq was cut with power behind point for four. Later in the same over came the shot that displayed Parag’s insouciance – a flat-batted six over long-off to a slower bouncer. But then came the impetuosity as Parag succumbed next ball, attempting a repeat. 43 off 29 balls was a decent effort, but questions still remain.

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