Rajasthan Royals head coach and director of cricket Kumar Sangakkara admitted that his team’s performance in a nine-wicket defeat to Gujarat Titans at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium was “embarrassing”, while adding that the inaugural IPL winners couldn’t make the most out of the good start they had.
Electing to bat first, Rajasthan suffered an unbelievable batting meltdown from 47/1 in five overs to being 118 all out in 17.5 overs, recording the second-lowestotal of IPL 2023, which Gujarat chased down in 13.5 overs.
“It is embarrassing for anyone when you don’t play well. We were very, very poor in terms of capitalising on the starts we got. We were showing intent for a while, but we were a little bit reckless, and then we had very, very little intent against the two spinners,” he said in the post-match press conference.
Rajasthan’s batters had practically no answers to questions posed by wrist-spin duo of Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmad, taking five wickets for 39 runs between themselves. Sangakkara has asked for his batters to step up their game against spin. “Rashid bowled brilliantly, I thought Noor bowled really well as well, but that’s the time the batters need to step up and show more and more intent.”
“Even a defence in T20 cricket has to have the intent of wanting to score. You work down the sequence of 6, 4, 3, 2, 1; or, if you’re under pressure, you go 4, 3, 2, 1. But you are always looking for opportunities to score, and at the minimum, getting off strike.”
“Once that intent is shown, it doesn’t matter how good a bowler you are, you are always thinking that you can’t give the batter anything loose because you’re going to get put away. So that’s one area that we’ve got to really look at.”
What has also increased Rajasthan’s batting troubles has been the low returns from Jos Buttler and Shimron Hetmyer. While Buttler has made only 93 runs in his last six innings, Hetmyer has been dismissed for five consecutive single-digit scores.
“For Jos, he had a great run last season. He started off really well and all batters go through a cold streak and a hot streak. It doesn’t reduce the quality of the player and over a longer period of time, you find with highly-skilled players that it all equalises.”
“It’s the same with Hetmyer. He’s been going through a rough patch after having started well again. But then that’s what a team is for. Other batters have to step up the slack and keep going and when they do fire it just adds to the impetus and the totals that we score.”
“That’s just the nature of T20 cricket and the conversations have been very good. They’ve been fantastic in the team environment and I know that they’re trying their best to do as well as they can,” added Sangakkara.
Rajasthan don’t have much time to dwell on their loss to Gujarat, with their next home match on Sunday evening against an out-of-sorts Sunrisers Hyderabad. “Games like this, most sides have pretty bad games. Unfortunately, we’ve had one now, pretty late in the tournament.”
“We’re still a very high-quality side, playing some very good cricket if you take this one out of the equation. But we’ve got to accept the fact that we were extremely poor, and that’s the first step. You realise it, accept it, and then try to come up with the solutions to what the problems are,” concluded Sangakkara.