All-star of the match

Early in his career, it was clear that Jofra Archer was destined for big things. He provided several glimpses of that in English county cricket, where he has been one of Sussex's most eye-catching performers for two seasons. Archer had his breakout performance in the 2017-18 Big Bash League. By the time that tournament wound down, Archer, who was the joint second-highest wicket-taker, had proved that he was ready for the big leagues. That fact was reaffirmed when he was snapped up by Rajasthan Royals at the IPL auction in January for INR 7.2 crore - 18 times his base price.

It took six games for Archer to break into this Royals XI, when he replaced Ben Laughlin against the same opponents in Jaipur. In almost identical circumstances, Mumbai Indians were limited to 167 for 7 on that occasion, and Archer played a key role with 3 for 22 in four overs. Thereafter, Archer has been one of the lynchpins of the Royals attack, their leading wicket-taker at this stage despite playing five games fewer than the next-best Jaydev Unadkat.

On Sunday, in the return fixture against Mumbai at the Wankhade, Archer demonstrated all the attributes that have made him such an asset in T20 cricket. There was pace - he frequently hit the high 140s - change-ups, smart angles, and good consistent lines. Archer was able to use the Wankhade's tendency to offer skiddy pace to keep the home team batsmen on a leash. He bowled in all three phases of the innings on Sunday, and excelled in each of them, with his most expensive over costing five runs.

Archer was denied the wicket of Evin Lewis when Stuart Binny failed to get around a skier in the third over. That lapse cost Royals 55 runs, as Lewis ended up being Mumbai's top scorer with 60 off 42 balls. But against Archer, he managed just three runs off seven balls. Archer returned in the 11th over, where he produced a double-strike, and followed it up with two tidy overs at the death to limit Mumbai's ability to finish strongly.

The wow moment


Archer's wickets of Suryakumar Yadav and Rohit Sharma off successive deliveries in the 11th over was perhaps the turning point of the match. Both deliveries were prime examples of how Archer's pace and angles can prove stressful to batsmen. First, Suryakumar, well set on 38, received a short ball that climbed into him rapidly. Forced into a pull with little time to react, the batsman skewed it off the top portion of the bat to long leg, where Unadkat moved forward and grabbed a low catch at shin height. Then, Archer exploited Rohit's weakness of compulsively pulling at anything short, and got him to play straight to Unadkat again, who this time fell over as he completed a chest-high catch. The wickets arrived at a critical juncture, with Mumbai having laid a solid base, and resulted in them losing substantial ground.

The numbers

  • Archer did not concede a single boundary in his four overs on Sunday. He is the first bowler to do this against Mumbai Indians this IPL.
  • Per ESPNcricinfo's Smart Stats metrics, Archer had a Smart Economy Rate of -0.01 in this game, which essentially means that he saved more runs than he conceded. Rashid Khan (also against Mumbai) and Sunil Narine (against Chennai Super Kings) are the only other bowlers with a negative Smart Economy Rate in a game this season after having bowled all four overs.
  • What they said

    "It was a good pitch to bowl on. It was a set plan to bowl spin up front. We weren't really nervous coming into the game tonight."
    Jofra Archer

    Akshay Gopalakrishnan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo