IPL 2024: We Were Found Short Of Options In The Middle Overs Against Spin, Says Samson

(MENAFN- IANS) Chennai, May 25 (IANS) Rajasthan Royals captain Sanju Samson feels they were short of options in the middle overs which was the reason they lost Qualifier 2 against Sunrisers Hyderabad by 36 runs at MA Chidambaram Stadium.

SRH clinched a spot in the IPL 2024 final, outmanoeuvring RR on a pitch that increasingly favoured the spinners in the second innings. The Royals, chasing a target of 176, fell short, managing only 139 for 7. This loss was attributed to their struggle against SRH's left-arm spinners on a dry pitch that offered more turn as the game progressed.

Rajasthan Royals' captain Sanju Samson acknowledged the challenge posed by the pitch and the clever bowling by SRH. "I think we were found short of options in the middle overs against spin, and I think that's where we lost the game," Samson said after the game. "Against left-arm spin, we had three-four right-handers in the middle and the ball was stopping. But we could've tried a bit more [options] - reverse-sweep or use of the crease a bit more - and they [SRH] also bowled really well, actually.

"It's actually very hard to guess - when we can expect dew or not [in Chennai]. So, the wicket started behaving differently in the second innings. The ball started turning a bit and they used the advantage and bowled spin in the middle overs against our right-handers and that's where they were one-up against us."

The statistics supported Samson's assessment. The Chepauk pitch, which offered an average turn of 1.8 degrees in the first innings, became significantly more spin-friendly in the second innings, with an average turn of 3.3 degrees. SRH strategically left out their main spinners, opting instead for Shahbaz Ahmed, who was introduced as an Impact Player, and Abhishek Sharma. This duo delivered eight overs, taking five wickets for just 47 runs. Even Aiden Markram's single over yielded sharp turn, underlining the changing nature of the pitch.

The Royals had a bright start with Yashasvi Jaiswal, who showed intent by reverse-sweeping the first ball he faced from Shahbaz for a boundary. However, his dismissal for 42 off 21 balls marked a turning point. SRH capitalized on this by deploying their left-arm spinners effectively against RR's right-handers, causing the middle-order to falter.

Kumar Sangakkara, RR's director of cricket, echoed Samson's sentiments, highlighting the need for better game-awareness and intent. "Jaiswal getting out at that stage brought the left-arm spinners into the game, and after that, it was a little difficult," Sangakkara said. He praised Dhruv Jurel for showing intent and playing smart shots but acknowledged that the overall team performance fell short.

"I think we've got to be a lot more clinical in our chases and these games are not won quite easily," Sangakkara said at his post-match press conference. "Jaiswal getting out at that stage brought the left-arm spinners into the game and after that it was a little difficult, but it was a case of just hanging in there and getting the pace of the wicket again and getting the hang of the bowler. As Dhruv Jurel showed, if you show intent and if you play smart shots, you can chase a score, but, unfortunately, we weren't good enough on the day. I thought the Sunrisers held in, they batted deep, and their bowlers did a great job for them."

Despite the disappointing end to their campaign, both Samson and Sangakkara reflected positively on the season. RR had started strong, winning eight of their first nine games before a mid-season slump. They managed to reach the second qualifier despite significant challenges, including the departure of key player Jos Buttler for England duty and an injury to Shimron Hetmyer.

Sangakkara highlighted the emergence of young talents like Riyan Parag and Dhruv Jurel as a major positive. Parag ended the season with 573 runs at a strike rate just under 150, while Jurel played several crucial innings. "I think it was a great season for us," Sangakkara said. "We started really well and then we lost a close game to SRH in Hyderabad. And then in Delhi also we put ourselves in winning positions and sometimes you have streaks. RCB lost almost every game at the start and then caught up. That's how T20 goes.

"All we can do is to put ourselves in positions for playoffs and vying for finals, which we did. I think all the guys through the season played really phenomenal cricket and there was a little bit of fatigue, of course, at the back end. But it doesn't really matter when you're in games like this - you've got to turn up and perform."

On the bowling front, Sandeep Sharma's transformation into a reliable death bowler was a standout. He took crucial wickets in the second qualifier and maintained a tight economy.

"I think it's just a case of changing his role. We always knew that a lot of sides used him upfront but with his pace and skill, we identified that he will be very, very effective for us in the middle and at the back end," Sangakkara said. That's what we tasked him with.

"We didn't have the services of Prasidh Krishna again. Navdeep Saini was injured, and he was coming back from a big shoulder injury and came [in] halfway through the season. For two seasons now, Sandeep has been absolutely outstanding for us. He's just a mature cricketer and he knows exactly what he can do and can't do, and he sticks to the basics. He tries to swing the new ball and once he's out of it, he changes his pace and he's got incredible skill and we're just lucky to have him."



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