Shane Watson blasted his way to an unbeaten 53-ball 98 as Rajasthan Royals broke their two-match losing streak with an emphatic eight-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium in Jaipur on Saturday.
After Hyderabad made 144 for 9 in 20 overs, mainly due to the efforts of Darren Sammy, Rahul Dravid and Watson laid the foundation for the chase with a 74-run second-wicket stand, before Watson came into his own to seal the win with 13 balls to spare. As a result, Rajasthan registered their fifth win in eight matches in the Pepsi Indian Premier League. (See: Match pics)
While Watson was outstanding with the bat, the win was set up by the bowling duo of James Faulkner, who picked up the tournament's first five-wicket haul, and Ajit Chandila, the offspinner. The duo broke Hyderabad's back by dismantling the top order inside the seventh over. Opting to bat, a revamped Hyderabad side was out for the count at 29 for 6.
The sinking ship was steered to calmer waters by Sammy and Amit Mishra, who put together a 58-run stand for the seventh wicket. Sammy was at his aggressive best, striking eight boundaries and a six in his 41-ball 60 while Mishra, who has a double century in first-class cricket, chipped in with a solid 21.
Rajasthan were guilty of letting the advantage slip with some poor bowling after Faulkner, who picked up three wickets in his first two overs, was taken off. Siddharth Trivedi's medium pace yielded 26 runs in three overs, while Stuart Binny and Tom Cooper struggled for accuracy. It took the reintroduction of Faulkner in the 15th over to dismiss Mishra, who played one shot too many. Faulkner then had his fifth when he trapped Sammy leg before in the penultimate over to move to the top of the wicket-takers' race.
Hyderabad's quest to find a stable opening pair has seen them try out five combinations in their last six matches. But with none of the combinations clicking, it was asking a lot from the middle order to chip in with sizable contributions. Fortunately for them, Sammy took them to a kind of total they've successfully defended in the tournament. (See Stats)
In reply, Rajasthan were off to a disastrous start when Dale Steyn removed Ajinkya Rahane in the second over, but Dravid and Watson helped bring some calm with a cautious approach. They went through a testing spell that saw them negotiate Steyn on a pitch that offered the pacers some assistance, before opening up against the other bowlers. Dravid looked ungainly on a number of occasions, but once a few deliveries hit the sweet spot, the confidence began to show. But a mistimed hoick over midwicket off Thisara Perera led to his dismissal for 36 to infuse some life into the Hyderabad ranks.
Watson thwarted any hopes of a turnaround with a blistering knock to go with his 101 in the previous game. He smashed an incredible 13 boundaries and four sixes to single-handedly pilot the chase. With able support from Binny, Watson made the chase look a lot easier than expected, bringing joy to another full house.