Good to end IPL season at home on a high says Steve Smith

Jaipur: Rajasthan Royals skipper Steve Smith is happy to have ended Rajasthan Royals’ ‘home run’ on a high after a seven-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad as he gears up to leave for Australia to take join national team’s World Cup preparatory camp.

Rajasthan Royals kept slender hopes of IPL play-off qualifications alive with a seven-wicket win over Sunrisers and are currently in sixth place with 10 points from 12 games. “It was a good end to our home season, the boys pulled things back nicely. Playing together as a group and we’re winning those key moments. We have been fortunate in the last few games,” Smith said at the post-match press conference.

He wants to end his IPL 2019 campaign on a winning note against Royal Challengers Bangalore on 30 April before leaving for home ahead of the upcoming ODI World Cup. To stay in contention for a playoff berth, Rajasthan first must win their remaining two away games against Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals on May 4 and then hope for favourable results from other matches.

“For us, it’s just about going on winning and then we’ll see what happens. I’ve got one more match in Bangalore, so it’ll be nice to finish off on a winning note, and hopefully the boys can win in Delhi too,” Smith said at the post-match presentation ceremony. “But it was a good end to our home season. The boys pulled it back nicely in the middle overs. We used the change of pace well. We were able to restrict them to 160 which I thought was about par.”

His elbow took a bit of pounding as he took an incredible catch running backwards to dismiss David Warner but Smith is hoping that the dive has not caused extensive damage ahead of the World Cup next month. Smith had an elbow surgery earlier this year and played with a heavily taped right elbow throughout the tournament. “Hopefully, my arm is ok, it hurt initially because of the impact. I’ll get to know more once the tape is off,” Smith said after the match.

Smith praised Liam Livingstone (44) and Sanju Samson (48 not out) for their efforts with the bat but lamented his side’s inability to win a close game at the initial end of the tournament. “Liam Livingstone opening for the first time in IPL hit the ball cleanly and Sanju finished it off well. We’re playing together as a group and won those key moments. At the start, we weren’t doing it. We’ve had a lot of close games and fortunately last few we’ve been able to get over the line,” he said.

Sunrisers skipper Kane Williamson said Rajasthan outplayed them despite putting up a competitive total on the board. “Potentially a competitive total. But they did it a little bit better than we did. They kept wickets in hand and we weren’t able to get the breakthroughs we usually get,” he said. “Manish Pandey is playing with some nice freedom. A couple of great performances. A little bit disappointing today, but very fine lines in this game.”