Rajasthan Royals v Pune Warriors
Indian Premier League 2011
Rajasthan Royals registered a table topping victory at Jaipur, beating Pune Warriors by six wickets. It was the latter’s sixth defeat on the bounce and pretty much consigns them to go empty handed this season, unless they pull off a major surprise. Rajasthan meanwhile have eleven points from nine games.
Chasing 144 for victory, Rajasthan didn’t get off to the best of starts with Shane Watson and Rahul Dravid both getting out without doing too much. The first wicket came with the score at 29 and by the 8th over, the scorecard read 43 for 2. Watson was gone for 12 while Dravid made 18. It became a spot of bother for the home team when Johan Botha couldn’t replicate his form either, out LBW for 12 runs. Leg spinner Rahul Sharma did the damage picking two of the three wickets to fall and then added a third to his kitty when he had Ashok Menaria caught in the deep for 29 runs.
The downside though was that Rajasthan had already dug themselves out of the mini-hole by then. Ross Taylor and Menaria had put on 33 runs for the fourth wicket which brought them very close to the finishing line. Taylor hadn’t done much of note in this season but he belied his dry run and batted with calm to drive home Rajasthan’s advantage gained in the recent matches. With Ajinkya Rahane he took his side across the finishing line in the final over, ending unbeaten on 47 off 35 balls. His innings included four fours and two sixes.
Earlier, Pune were put into bat on a pitch that was a minor improvement on the one that had been laid out in the previous game against Mumbai Indians. Even so, the visitors found the going tough and ended up with a below-150 score, which is never par for T20 games. It was again a spin based attack used by Rajasthan Royals that strangled the rate of scoring and Pune fell into the trap laid out for them. Jesse Ryder was first out for 18 runs while Robin Uthappa’s promotion to number three allowed for a keen contest with Warne. The legendary leg spinner eventually won when he had Uthappa stumped for 35. The turning point came when Yuvraj Singh was run out backing up too far, for a mere seven runs, in the 13th over, and four balls later, Manish Pandey threw away his wicket holing out in the deep for 30 runs.
Uthappa struck seven boundaries and Pandey his four fours in their respective innings, but beyond them, the lower order always was going to find it tough getting to a better total. Nathan McCullum was sent in a little too late and Mithun Manhas couldn’t get the scoring rate going, even though he did end up scoring 24 runs off 19 balls. They eventually ended up with 143 for 7 in twenty overs and it was always going to be a tough ask defending that score.
© Cricket World 2011