(The Times Of India)
Chase and win seems to be the success mantra at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium. It was no different on Sunday as Rajasthan Royals fought hard to successfully chase down a target of 144 to inflict yet another defeat on Pune Warriors, their sixth in a row.
Sides batting second have had the better of their opponents in all the five games in Jaipur this IPL season. Once Shane Warne elected to chase, it seemed things were destined the Royals’ way as Warriors frittered away chances aplenty on the field to let the match slip away from their grasp.
As a result of their six-wicket victory, Royals moved up to top spot on the table above Kolkata Knight Riders while Pune Warriors maintained their tenth position.
The chase turned out to be far from easy. Though the first two overs yielded 19, the visitors bounced back in the fifth over with the wicket of Shane Watson. Soon Rahul Dravid and Johan Botha followed the Australian with leg-spinner Rahul Sharma (3-13) keeping a check on the scoring.
Ross Taylor and Ashok Menaria then took the matter in their own hands, putting on 33 more. After Menaria (29; 22b, 3×6) was dismissed in the 15th over, the Warriors had their noses ahead but Taylor had other ideas. The Kiwi flayed the bowlers, surviving a couple of dropped chances – McCullum being the culprit – on his way to match-winning 35-ball 47.
His calculated assault meant that Royals needed 19 off 12 balls in the end. Taylor then hammered Alfonso Thomas for a six, with Royals getting 13 from the over. Ajinkya Rahane (15; 9b) then hit a four off Jerome Taylor’s second ball before taking a hurried single to complete the win.
Earlier, Pune Warriors tried yet another opening pair without much success as Jesse Ryder, accompanying Manish Pandey, fell in the third over to Botha, with the score reading 24-1.
Robin Uthappa (35; 21b, 7×4) however, was in mood for a fight. Warne’s first over, innings’ sixth, saw an entertaining tussle, as Uthappa swept the leg-spinner for three boundaries. However, he was lucky to survive the over as umpire Shavir Tarapore denied three close leg-before appeals.
The Royals skipper had the last laugh tough as Uthappa top-edged a reverse sweep to wicketkeeper Dishant Yagnik. Manish Pandey batted well for his 31-ball 30 before picking out Taylor at deep midwicket off Siddharth Trivedi after Yuvraj was run out in the same over, backing up too far. By then, Warriors were reduced to 93-4 in 13 overs.
Mithun Manhas and Harpreet Singh added some valuable runs in the end to guide them to a respectable total.