IPL 2024: Royals face another uphill task against Sunrisers

It won’t come as a surprise if Rajasthan Royals’ league game against Sunrisers Hyderabad on May 2 was relegated to memory.
Last Updated : 23 May 2024, 14:04 IST
Last Updated : 23 May 2024, 14:04 IST

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Chennai: Given emotional and mental flux which typifies every season of the Indian Premier League, it becomes increasingly difficult to remember or recall most matches. 

So, it won’t come as a surprise if Rajasthan Royals’ league game against Sunrisers Hyderabad on May 2 was relegated to memory. 

Sure, it was a thriller with the Sunrisers coming out on top by a run, but then again, how many such cliffhangers have we seen this season alone? Let’s just say enough to be desensitised to most of them by now. 

But, that game altered the course for the Royals so dramatically that it deserves introspection. 

After that night, it would be twenty days, three losses and a washed-out game before Sanju Samson’s men tasted victory again.

Wednesday night’s ‘Eliminator’ victory against the Royal Challengers Bengaluru was that game, and it couldn’t have come at a better time because their season was at stake.

That four-wicket win might have ensured another night for the Royals as they progressed to Qualifier 2, but on Friday night, it will be either them or the Sunrisers staying back in Chennai to take on Kolkata Knight Riders in the final on Sunday.  

Besides the gravity of the game itself, this is Royals’ chance to address what triggered the avalanche of losses in the first place.

The Royals had won eight of their first nine games to hit the front of the table with five games left in the league stage and yet ended up finishing behind the Sunrisers by the end. 

The capitulation, as inexplicable as it seems at a glance, takes root from the fact they have been miserable with the bat for a while now, registering scores of under 150 in their last two losses. Even against RCB, they stuttered a fair bit in pursuit of 173.

That’s not a great look for a side which houses the likes of Yashavi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson and Riyan Parag. Of course, Jos Buttler’s flight home for national duty didn’t help the cause, but that’s just how the league works. They should’ve known better. 

At the other end, the Sunrisers are more equipped with stars and role players with both bat and ball. 

Besides that dynamite opening combination of Travis Head and Abhishek Sharma, they’ve got a rounded middle-order, and their bowling unit possesses experience from the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and skipper Pat Cummins. 

It’s no surprise that they finished second on the table after the league phase. But, it also was no surprise that they got hammered by Kolkata in Qualifier 1 because while they’re good, they’ve also been too reliant on the Power-Play momentum provided by Head and Abhishek. When that doesn’t happen, they have had a tendency to cave. 

Still, Sunrisers have it all to get to the final, maybe even stick it to Kolkata once there. The Royals don’t inspire confidence at this point, but they have the on-paper quality and the slightest of wind in their sails.

But, that’s the thing, when you get this deep in the tournament history, form guides, pedigree and so on are but tools for inaccurate prophecies. 

Nights such as these aren’t about the past. They are about what men of heart can do in a moment or two.

Abhishek Sharma 
Abhishek Sharma 
Published 23 May 2024, 14:04 IST

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