In his maiden appearance for Rajasthan Royals, the all-rounder made the difference with his returns of 3/22.
Four overs, only 22 runs, and three wickets. Jofra Archer certainly made his presence felt in the Indian Premier League 2018 with a Player of the Match award-worthy performance for Rajasthan Royals against Mumbai Indians on Sunday 22 April.
His pace, accuracy and swing had all been talked about following his exploits in England, where he plays for Sussex, and in Australia, where he represents Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash League – 17 wickets in 13 games. On the day, followers of the game in India found out what all the talk was about.
A knuckle ball helped him get his maiden IPL wicket when he had Krunal Pandya caught at deep mid-wicket. Hardik Pandya was beaten by a 145-kmph yorker that cannoned off the pads on to the stumps, and Mitchell McClenaghan barely got his bat down to one sent through at 149.2kph that swung in and hit timber.
After overcoming a side strain that he had picked up during the Pakistan Super League, Archer, 23, was happy to get back in action. “It’s good to be back on the park after missing the first few games," he said after missing out the first four games his side played.
“We just wanted to restrict them. I think after it looked like they would get to 190, Stokesy [Ben Stokes] had a chat with us at the halfway stage and told us that we need to really bring us back. And we did and then chased it down.”
Ajinkya Rahane, the Rajasthan captain, was impressed with the all-rounder's performance. “I think he is fantastic. Happy to see him back because he was injured initially,” said Rahane. “The way he bowled, I think his spell and Jaydev (Unadkat) and Dhawal (Kulkarni) bowling in the middle overs was incredible.
“Jofra can bowl 140-plus. I think his pace and his accuracy was fantastic. He is always thinking about the wickets and I feel that's the way to go about it. Because when you think about the wickets, your mindset is always positive.”
The 19th over of the Mumbai innings, when Archer picked up all his three wickets, made all the difference to the way the match panned out. At the start of it, Mumbai were 153/4 and looking good for 180 or so. After Archer was done, all they could manage was 167/7, which Rajasthan chased down in 19.4 overs.
Archer celebrated the wickets with a cheerful smile and his signature ‘telephone’ dance move, but he wasn’t as free-spirited when he had to come out and bat later.
“The heartbeat hasn't come down as yet, it is still pumping from that win,” he said after scoring eight runs late in the script. “It was a bit nervy coming to the end when we needed 40 from 20, but with the talent we had in the dugout we knew it would be easy.”
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