Possessing two exciting Australian all-rounders in its team, Rajasthan Royals should expect more of the same henceforth.
In Shane Watson and James Faulkner, Rahul Dravid has just the kind of match-winners his team lacked in the earlier editions of the IPL.
On a warm Saturday, the duo led RR to a comprehensive eight-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad with virtuoso displays. This was the team’s fourth win out of four at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium this term.
Watson almost scored his second consecutive century in Pepsi IPL-VI, finishing with 98 off 53 balls. Thirteen fours and four sixes adorned his performance, marked by the now familiar ability to punish anything short by pulling or heaving on the on-side.
After showing restraint initially in the face of a threatening Dale Steyn spell, Watson slowly found his range of shots with Dravid precluding any serious damage by holding one front steadfastly.
The match hung in balance until the 15th over, when the Australian plundered three fours and a six off Ishant Sharma. In fact, it was a surprise that SRH found its way to 144 after Faulkner’s initial burst caused considerable damage to the team.
While the sun didn’t set on the Jaipur skyline until 1857 hours, the Sunrisers hurtled towards complete darkness much earlier by losing their first six wickets in the opening half hour.
Yes, there was the early seam movement which brought a wicket or two but much attention should be paid to the altruistic nature of the SRH batsmen’s dismissals.
Akshath Reddy charged aimlessly down the wicket in the opening over by Ajit Chandila; Shikhar Dhawan picked out the fielder from the gaps to be caught at point and Karan Sharma top-edged a short delivery, with Faulkner being the beneficiary of the last two acts of generosity.
Thisara Perera’s irresponsible attempt to clear the boundary in the fifth over caused greater annoyance and Chandila earned his second scalp.
At 29 for six after 6.1 overs, SRH was expected to collapse in humble submission over the next 4-5 overs. But this team has an obvious penchant for a surprise, as witnessed in the unusually high number of come-from-behind victories it has been involved in this term.
Darren Sammy was SRH’s rescuer-in-chief, scoring a 41-ball 60. The West Indies skipper’s free-spirited innings found its greatest expression in his full-strength drives.
Sammy was finally removed by man-of-the-match Faulkner, whose fiver beat SRH black and blue while earning him the Purple Cap.
Dravid, however, should take some of the blame for Sammy and Mishra’s successful escape as he displayed remarkable unwillingness to go for the kill by not employing the left-arm paceman for a second spell earlier in the innings.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Akshath Reddy c Watson b Chandila 2 (5b), Shikhar Dhawan c Rahane b Faulkner 0 (2b), Kumar Sangakkara c Watson b Faulkner 4 (4b, 1x4), Hanuma Vihari c Yagnik b Cooper 4 (9b), Karan Sharma c Hodge b Faulkner 6 (8b, 1x4), Thisara Perera c Cooper b Chandila 4 (4b, 1x4), Darren Sammy lbw b Faulkner 60 (41b, 8x4, 1x6), Amit Mishra c Cooper b Faulkner 21 (28b, 2x4), Ashish Reddy c Rahane b Binny 14 (11b, 1x4), Dale Steyn (not out) 18 (8b, 2x4, 1x6), Ishant Sharma (not out) 0 (0b); Extras (lb-2, w-9): 11; Total (for nine wkts. in 20 overs): 144.
Fall of wickets: 1-2 (Akshath), 2-6 (Sangakkara), 3-7 (Dhawan), 4-15 (Karan), 5-19 (Perera), 6-29 (Vihari), 7-87 (Mishra), 8-114 (Ashish), 9-127 (Sammy).
Rajasthan Royals bowling: Ajit Chandila 3-0-13-2, James Faulkner 4-0-20-5, Shane Watson 2-0-16-0, Kevon Cooper 4-0-42-1, Siddharth Trivedi 3-0-26-0, Stuart Binny 4-0-25-1.
Rajasthan Royals: Rahul Dravid c Vihari b Perera 36 (35b, 4x4, 1x6), Ajinkya Rahane c Sangakkara b Steyn 1 (9b), Shane Watson (not out) 98 (53b, 13x4, 4x6), Stuart Binny (not out) 9 (10b, 1x4); Extras (lb-1, w-1): 2; Total (for two wkts. in 17.5 overs): 146.
Fall of wickets: 1-7 (Rahane), 2-81 (Dravid).
Sunrisers Hyderabad bowling: Dale Steyn 4-1-15-1, Ishant Sharma 3-0-35-0, Thisara Perera 4-0-34-1, Darren Sammy 3-0-17-0, Amit Mishra 2-0-20-0, Karan Sharma 1.5-0-24-0.
Man-of-the-match: J. Faulkner.