New Delhi:Rajasthan Royals made a remarkable recovery from a top order slump to beat Deccan Chargers' by three-wickets in a thrilling Indian Premier League match here on Saturday.
The Royals registered their third victory in the event from seven matches to put their title defence campaign on track, while the Deccan Chargers slumped to their second consecutive defeat to slide from the top of the points table.
Chasing a modest 142 run target, the Royals rode on useful contributions from their lower middle order, especially young Abhishek Raut (36 off 23) to scamper home in 19.4 overs after they were tottering at 3/3 at one stage of the match.
Earlier opting to bat, Adam Gilchrist (39) started the Chargers' innings on a blistering note, picking up 27 runs of the first three overs and then Rohit Sharma (38) and T Suman (41) stitched a crucial 59-run stand for the fourth wicket to guide Deccan Chargers to 141 for five.
The Royals started their innings on a disastrous note as they lost three quick wickets by the end of the second over.
Graeme Smith's misery with the bat continued as he fell without troubling the scorers in the second ball off Fidel Edwards' opening over, caught at third man by Shoaib Ahmed.
Swanpil Asnodkar did not do any justice either as he was run out by Gibbs in the very next ball and then Naman Ojha added more worries for the Royals when he gave a straight forward catch to Gibbs at point off RP Singh in the second over to see the defending champions slump to a precarious 3/3.
But then came in Lee Carseldine, and in young Ravindra Jadeja's (12) company, the Queenslander added 51 runs in 7.1 overs for the fourth wicket to set the tone for the run chase.
The Queenslander showed why offence is always regarded as the best defence as he brought back the Royals' chase on track, hitting six fours enroute his 31-ball 39.
But much to the dislike of Royals' supporters, the bowling change in the 10th over did the trick for Chargers as Venugopal Rao (2/23) broke the partnership, scalping both Jadeja and Carseldine's wickets in a span of four balls to see the defending champions struggle at 60/5 at the halfway mark.
However, skipper Shane Warne (21) had other plans.
Needing 74 off 54, he hoiked Rao over long on for a six and then added another after the bowler dropped an easy caught and ball chance in his previous delivery. Raut finished off the over with a cheeky four to take 17 runs of the eventful 12th over.
Pragyan Ojha (1/27) stopped Warne's cameo with Gilchrist easily pouncing on to a skier.
Dangerous Yusuf Pathan (24 off 14) made his intentions clear from the word go. He struck two back-to-back sixes of Shoaib Mohammad in the 15th over to bring the Royals back in the hunt.
With 11 runs needing off 13 balls, the game witnessed another anti-climax when Pathan got out, trying another big hit, caught by Gibbs off RP Singh (2/18).
But Raut and Shane Harwood (3) ensured no further worries for the Royals bringing them home with two balls to spare.
Earlier, Gilchrist struck Munaf for a boundary and a six over fine leg in the second over and then followed it up with two more fours of Yusuf Pathan's next over to signal his intentions.
Herschelle Gibbs (8) was the first to depart when in-form Pathan (1/19) caught him plumb in front of the wicket. However, the South African seemed unhappy with the decision.
Debutant Shane Harwood (2/25) ensured double blow for the Chargers, picking up Azhar Bilakhia with his very first ball of the tournament, caught by Siddharth Trivedi to send the Hyderabad outfit in a spot of bother at 35/2.
From there on, Gilchrist and new man in Rohit found boundaries hard to come by, but kept the scoreboard ticking with ones and twos.
The former Australian wicket-keeper, however, cut lose in Shane Warne opening over, dispatching the leggie over long on.
But Ravindra Jadeja (1/22) cut Gilchrist's innings short just two balls before the strategy break with Pathan taking a smart catch at short mid-wicket.
But a 42-ball 59-run stand between Rohit and Suman finally saved the day for Chargers and ensured a decent total for the table toppers.
Suman hit Warne for a four and six in consecutive balls in the 13th over to set the tone for the Chargers.
Rohit too joined the party, dispatching Munaf over the mid-wicket fence in first ball of the 15th over and then followed it up with a boundary a delivery later.
However, Rohit's over aggression finally did him with Warne latching on to an easy catch off Siddharth Trivedi just after the right-hander hit a six off the bowler in his previous delivery.