Rajasthan Royals must really love playing at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium. Rahul Dravid’s men did not lose a single match here in the 2013 IPL and the unbeaten run continued in the Champions League T20 as they defeated Mumbai Indians by seven wickets in the tournament opener.
Chasing 143, RR coasted home thanks to a composed half-century by Sanju Vishwanadh before Stuart Binny and Shane Watson administered the final rites.
After Rahul Dravid was dismissed early, the teenage wicketkeeper was fortunate to survive a close lbw shout off Mitchell Johnson in the third over.
However, Vishwanadh rode his luck to establish a 74-run partnership with Ajinkya Rahane. The duo kept the required run rate in check by regularly finding boundaries.
Though Vishwanadh was dismissed when RR was still 35 runs adrift, Binny released the pressure through some power hitting at the end. MI hurt its cause by fielding two spinners, Pragyan Ojha and Harbhajan Singh, on a track more suitable for pace men.
The seeds of victory were sown earlier, though, as RR’s quick bowlers reaped significant rewards before Kieron Pollard’s late assault guided his team to a challenging score.
At the toss, Rohit Sharma said he was happy to bat first and his team was well prepared.
Unfortunately for him, his teammates did not display the required application.
Rain earlier in the evening brought moisture to the track, resulting in considerable away seam movement. RR’s decision to not play a specialist spinner — Ashok Menaria bowled a couple of overs — paid dividends.
Vikramjeet Malik, who represents Himachal Pradesh in first-class cricket, surprised many by taking three wickets. The 30-year-old got the ball to skid and seam consistently.
Four deliveries into his spell, Malik got his first scalp when Dwayne Smith failed to connect with a ball that stayed low, trapping him in front of the stumps.
The first ball of the sixth over brought the medium-pacer his second wicket as Dinesh Karthik was put out of his misery by an incoming delivery, the ball taking an inside edge off the bat before dismantling the woodwork.
Three overs later, MI found itself in deeper trouble at 43 for four. First, Sachin was caught behind while aiming a cover drive, and then, Rayudu was run out following a mix-up.
Rohit had initially called Rayudu for the run before refusing it and perhaps, the guilt spurred him on to stabilise the innings.
Along with Pollard, the skipper added 52 off 45 balls before guiding the ball to the ’keeper off Watson.
The last four overs brought 41 runs as Pollard and Coulter-Nile feasted on some poor bowling.