IPL 2012: Rahane And Cooper Star In Rajasthan Win
Rajasthan Royals 191-4 (Rahane 98) beat
Kings XI Punjab 160-9 (Cooper 4-26) by 31 runs
Indian Premier League, Jaipur
A sublime innings of 98 from Ajinkya Rahane and an all-round performance from Kevon Cooper were the highlights as the Rajasthan Royals became the first team to win at home in the Indian Premier League 2012, beating the King XI Punjab by 31 runs in Jaipur.
Batting first, they posted 191 for four and the Kings XI Punjab were restricted to 160 for nine in reply, Cooper taking four for 26.
Cooper became the second man to take four wickets on his debut after Shoaib Akhtar first produced such a performance for the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2008 after Rahane became the second player to score 98 after Suresh Raina did it in 2009.
The opening three games in this year's competition saw runs hard to come by but Rajasthan took advantage of a fine pitch to score quickly and freely.
New captain Rahul Dravid and the excellent Rahane added 77 runs in 9.3 overs for the first wicket. Three sweetly driven fours by Dravid were matched by Rahane's strength all around the wicket before the partnership was broken when Dravid lifted Harmeet Singh high in the air and he was caught by James Faulkner.
Kings XI struck again quickly when Piyush Chawla bowled Ashok Menaria for a duck but Rajasthan regrouped through Rahane, who never once looked flustered or troubled, and Brad Hodge (21) adding 75 for the third wicket.
Hodge hit a four and a six in 16 balls and he was next to fall when he was bowled by Faulkner. Rahane hit a total of 16 fours and one six and he looked set to reach his century before he was bowled attempting another big hit with three balls of the innings remaining.
At the other end, Owais Shah played an inventive and industrious cameo of 14 not out in eight fours and after Rahane's demise, Kevon Cooper introduced himself to IPL cricket by smiting the first ball he faced high over point for a maximum.
He finished unbeaten on 11 in just three balls while Faulkner returned figures of two for 41, both of his wickets coming with well-disguised slower balls out of the back of his hand.
Adam Gilchrist made a typically dashing start with two early boundaries before he was dropped by Siddharth Trivedi off the bowling of Amit Singh.
Gilchrist then smashed Johan Botha for six and opening partner Paul Valthaty was not slow to get in on the action, hitting the same bowler for a boundary later in the over but when Gilchrist offered another chance, Cooper made no mistake and the left-hander was on his way having made 27 in 18 balls.
Cooper's dream debut continued when he had Valthaty caught at the second attempt by Amit Singh at point shortly after for 13 and then Shaun Marsh caught by Dravid at mid on for seven as the Kings XI quickly slipped to 55 for three.
Next to fall to the West Indian all-rounder was Abhishek Nayar (10) who attempted to follow up one cross-bat six with another but only succeeding in giving wicket-keeper Shreevats Goswami a catch.
And Cooper was back in the game again when David Hussey (14) lofted the ball in his direction off Trivedi as the Kings XI rapidly lost their way.
Bipul Sharma (18 in 13 balls) and Mandeep Singh (34 in 25 balls) did their best to keep their side in contention but they had been left with too much to do and they both fell to Ankeet Chavan in the 16th over.
Chawla showed that he can bat as well as bowl, hosting Singh into the stands but it proved to be far too little, far too late and Cooper grabbed his fourth wicket when Chawla was comprehensively bowled by a vicious slow off-cutter.
Praveen Kumar lifted Cooper over his head for a maximum as the Kings XI at least went down fighting but the game was long since over as contest by the time he came to the crease.
He was run out soon after by - you guessed it - Cooper to as the Royals completed an excellent performance with a flourish.
© Cricket World 2012