Rajasthan Royals had Sunrisers Hyderabad on the mat, taking six wickets off the first six overs, before a desperate effort at consolidation from Darren Sammy and Amit Mishra took Hyderabad to a respectable 144. But Rajasthan hit back again, with the bat this time - Shane Watson scoring a merciless 53-ball 98 to help the home team to a clinical eight-wicket victory at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on Saturday (April 27).
Contrary to what the final score line suggested, Sammy, the Hyderabad allrounder, stressed that Hyderabad were not outplayed. "We kept ourselves in the running," he said. "Once again Sunrisers showed that fight and spirit, that never-say-die attitude after so many wickets fell in the first 10 overs - we were 100 for 7 and recovered to score 140. We were in the game till Watson stole the show. I don't think we were outplayed."
Sammy was, however, critical of the top order. "We as batters need to give ourselves a chance," he said. "Respect the start of our innings. If you notice, most of the wickets fell early up in each batsman's innings. Probably we can take a few balls to get in, get a feel of the wicket and then play ourselves in."
"The wicket today I think was more like a 160 wicket. We lost four wickets in the first four overs, but credit to the guys who continued to show that fight and that belief to get to 140. We're still in the top four (in the points table). We have crucial games coming up and we just got to refocus and keep believing that we can finish in the top four."
Speaking about the locket he was wearing, Sammy said, "I just had a baby girl you know so... my daughter suck on this... so I have it and whenever I am on the field I take it with me for inspiration. It worked today so I am going to continue using it." Sammy also praised Watson - although later he did admit that he'd prefer bowling at the Australian allrounder than fellow West Indian Chris Gayle - saying that Rajasthan had no answer for him.
"We could probably have bowled better to him, execute better, you know, don't give him so much room, don't bowl so much length to him," Sammy said. "But all in all he played well and, to me, he was the difference today."
Sammy also said that so many West Indian players shining in the IPL would motivate players back in the West Indies. "I think after winning the T20 World Cup and, you know, guys like Gayle and Pollard and Bravo and Narine who have been consistent performers in the IPL, you know, it's motivation for the guys back home. Even Trinidad played well in the Champions League. Twenty20 is something that really suits us, suits the brand of cricket we play. It's entertaining, exciting and we have the flair. Most of the guys could dance. We just go out and enjoy the cricket. That's just natural for us."
James Faulkner, the Rajasthan allrounder, meanwhile, was all praise for Watson. "I thought Shane (Watson) batted exceptionally well again tonight, right after his innings in Chennai. To be 98 not out in a Twenty20 game is a great effort,"Faulkner said.
Faulkner also said there was not a distinct bowling plan as such. "I suppose each day you could have a different plan," he said. "At our home ground here in Jaipur, it does a little bit with the new ball. It seams around a little bit and swings. I think we have done that really well use the new ball well to our advantage so far as a bowling group and I think our death bowling has been pretty good so far as well."
Faulkner felt the wicket was good. "I think, we obviously took early wickets tonight and then I think we capitalized after first the six when Steyn bowled three straight and bowled really well. Rahul, our skipper, batted exceptionally well with Shane to get a partnership together and to really build a strong platform."
"Our spin's been our key factor of our success so far - the start in the first six overs and then after that we have capitalized really well as bowling group with the variation and our seam, I suppose."
Faulkner, however, did admit that Hyderabad had been allowed to get away after being put under a lot of pressure at the start of their innings. "To be brutally honest, they shouldn't have got 140-145. The way we were going they should have probably got a few runs less. But in the end we were good enough to chase the runs down.
Faulkner also expressed the value of playing in the IPL for a foreign player. "Anytime to get an opportunity to play good cricket overseas, especially the subcontinent, you can really learn different skills and different crafts,"he said. "I think the IPL gives everyone a good opportunity to perfect their skills and sharpen them up."