At a ground that is fast becoming their fortress, the Rajasthan Royals played a near perfect game of cricket to knock the stuffing out of a star-studded Mumbai Indians team. After putting 179 on the board Rajasthan bowled Mumbai out for only 92 to win by 87 runs at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium in Jaipur on Wednesday (April 17).
Rahul Dravid did not face a single ball in Rajasthan's innings, and yet, even if he had played the entire 20 overs he could not have constructed a target better. A contrasting cast of lesser lights played their parts to perfection.
Shane Watson, all muscle at the top of the order, ensured that his batting line-up were not overawed by the firepower Mumbai brought to the table. Four boundaries off a Lasith Malinga over were the highlight of Watson's 31 in an opening partnership of 62.
Ajinkya Rahane, perfectly poised when putting away the bad ball, and attentive enough to not throw his wicket away when the bowler extracted something from the pitch, batted through the innings to end on 68 at a strike rate of 125. Flying well below the radar, Rahane had hurt Mumbai without playing a shot in anger, providing the backbone while others around him took their chances. Dravid on promoting Yagnik
Dishant Yagnik, who missed Rajasthan's last match through injury, and was a surprise inclusion on Wednesday, with his replacement Sanju Samson having done everything right in the one chance he got, was pure cheek. Teeing off into the stands at long-on off Kieron Pollard, slicing through point and eventually walking off with a wry smile after a reverse sweep went wrong, Yagnik's 24-ball 34 ensured that there was no pressure on Rahane to deviate from his natural game. Stats
Even when Stuart Binny was run out for the one outright failure in the Rajasthan innings, with the score reading 126 for 3 and nearly five overs remaining, Dravid stayed firmly ensconced in his seat in the dugout. Brad Hodge brought all the experience of his 183 Twenty20 matches to the end overs, finishing in a flurry of shots that included a towering slog sweep for six off Harbhajan Singh. Setting Mumbai an even 180 for victory, Rajasthan took the field in the second half in the full knowledge that they had done all they could have with the bat.
Dravid continued to ignore conventional wisdom, opening the bowling with the spin of Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan, drafted into the side in place of S Sreesanth, whose workload was being managed carefully. Chandila, tall and upright in delivery stride, bowls his offspin with an open-chested action that would dismay purists, but was a captain's delight. First, he had Sachin Tendulkar caught at short fine-leg, a top-edged sweep ballooning safely into Siddharth Trivedi's hands, and then Ricky Ponting popped back a return catch. At 10 for 2, Mumbai were in trouble, and Rohit Sharma, instead of calming nerves, poured fuel on Rajasthan's spark. A lazy pull shot to the fielder inside the circle left Mumbai at 26 for 3, which would soon become 31 for 4 when Binny sent Pollard's middle stump cartwheeling. Pics
Dinesh Karthik and Ambati Rayudu tried to fashion a revival, but when the halfway mark of the innings was upon them with 138 still needed from 60 balls, it was time to take some risks. Karthik (30) holed out to long-on in the process and the chase was dead in the water.
Soon after, Harbhajan and Rayudu ended up at the same end, and were in not too polite conversation as the bails were taken off at the other end, typifying the kind of day Mumbai had endured. Replays showed that Rayudu had slid his bat past the crease a fraction ahead of Harbhajan but it didn't really matter as Mumbai were 64 for 7. From there on, all they could do was limp to 92 all out. Watch Analysis
Chandila, who started the rout, ended the match having bowled just one spell, but what a spell it was. When you take into account the fact that Chandila's two first class outings for Haryana have yielded just 3 wickets - and the soonest he came into the attack was as the fifth bowler - the enormity of the punt that the Royals took became clear. With figures of 2-0-6-2, including the scalps of two players who had 10,000-plus runs in Tests and ODIs, Chandila had more than earned his pay.