Jaipur, Apr 20:
Steve Smith celebrated his return at the helm with a captain’s innings that powered Rajasthan Royals to a five-wicket victory over a formidable Mumbai Indians in an Indian Premier League encounter here Saturday.
Chasing a target of 162, Royals won the game with five balls to spare as the former Australia captain anchored the innings with an unbeaten 59 off 48 balls.
India U-19 World Cupper Riyan Parag (43 off 29 balls) also showed good temperament as he matched his skipper stroke for stroke during their 70 runs stand in 9.4 overs that paved the way for a comfortable victory.
Smith, who replaced Ajinkya Rahane after the India vice-captain’s disastrous run, hit five boundaries and a six while Assam lad Riyan also had identical number of hits to the fence.
This is Rajasthan’s third win in nine games as they are now placed seventh in the league table above wooden spooners Royal Challengers Bangalore even though a play-off qualification looks a long shot as of now.
Rajasthan Royals, who were in a must-win situation, raced to 39 in 3.3 overs but Rahane (12 off 12 balls) departed as Suryakumar Yadav took a diving catch at covers off leg-spinner Rahul Chahar, who was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 3 for 29.
Credit should also be given to Sanju Samson for his whirlwind 35 off 19 balls that set the pace and enabled Smith to anchor the innings in the manner only he can.
Riyan’s composure also helped even though Chahar and the seasoned Jasprit Bumrah (1/21 in 4 overs) bowled well at the back end but the home team showed enough firepower.
Earlier, Quinton de Kock continued his impressive run with another solid half-century as Mumbai Indians put up a decent 161 for 5 batting first.
De Kock smashed 65 off 47 balls with six fours and two sixes, adding 97 runs off 68 balls for the second wicket with Suryakumar Yadav (34 off 33 balls) that helped MI total gain a semblance of respectability.
Reinstated as skipper in place of Rahane, Smith introduced leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal (2/21 in 4 overs) in the third over.
He deceived rival skipper Rohit Sharma (5), who stepped out only to offer a return catch after failing to read a googly.
Gopal could have got rid of De Kock off the last ball of the over but Jofra Archer dropped a difficult chance at long on.
Making most out of this reprieve De Kock helped his team reach 50-run mark in 6.5 overs. (PTI)
Jaipur, Apr 20: