Rajasthan Royals (RR) suffered a heartbreaking five-run defeat at the hands of Punjab Kings (PBKS) in Match 8 of IPL 2023 at Barsapara Cricket Stadium in Guwahati on Wednesday (April 5).
After the game, RR skipper Sanju Samson defended the move to promote off-spinner R Ashwin as an opener, saying that Jos Buttler had injured his finger while taking a catch.
Buttler appeared to have injured his finger after grabbing a stunning catch to remove Shahrukh Khan in the final over of Punjab’s innings. It seems he wasn't ready to bat when the Rajasthan’s innings began.
Chasing 198 to win, the Royals were blown away by Nathan Ellis (4-30) before Shimron Hetmyer (35) and 'Impact Player' Dhruv Jurel (32* off 15) forged a 62-run stand to bring them back in the contest.
However, PBKS all-rounder Sam Curran justified his hefty price tag by defending 15 runs in the last over to restrict RR to 192/7.
"I think it was a really good track to bat on, especially in the Powerplay. There was not much movement. Their batsmen came with a really positive mindset and their momentum carried on with that. Our bowlers tried varying their lengths and speed," Samson said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
"It's a high-scoring venue but we did a reasonably good job pulling them back after the Powerplay start they got. [On sending Ashwin in to open] Jos was not fit. He was getting stitches for his finger after the catch. The thinking was with Padikkal, they have two spinners, a left-arm and a leggie, and we wanted a lefty out there in the middle overs,” he added.
The Royals captain had special praise reserved for Dhruv Jurel, saying that the team is extremely happy to have a batter like him.
"[On Jurel] It's really a pleasure. He has been with us for the last two seasons. Lots and lots of work has gone behind him. We all are really happy. When you come to the IPL, it's a one-week camp before the IPL starts but these guys put in 5 weeks of work coming to our academy facing thousands of balls. We're happy to have a batsman like that in our team," Samson stated.
"Dew, I was expecting it come in the second half of the game but it was right there in the first innings. It was a high-scoring game and I think we'll be a bit more prepared in the next game," he concluded.
Rajasthan Royals will take on Delhi Capitals in their next clash in Guwahati on April 8.