The joy of an expected victory is, perhaps, underrated. Some place such success in the category of a boring win; some even go to the extent of terming it unremarkable.
Tell this to the winning captain and he would respond by raising his eyebrows. For there’s nothing more satisfying than an expected success. Usually, such a victory signifies a team performance at anticipated levels.
Rajasthan Royals would readily recognise those standards. Under Rahul Dravid, perhaps, the franchise has bested even its own expectations.
The team’s self-belief has been on the rise for some time; it will only grow further if RR continues to repeat the kind of performance it produced in its nine-wicket victory over Perth Scorchers on Sunday.
Dravid’s men are through to the last four and, on current form, should top group A. A win over Otago on Tuesday will ensure that RR will play its semifinal within the comfortable environs of Sawai Mansingh Stadium. At home, the boys in royal blue seem invincible.
Men on a mission
Once again, RR’s bowlers came good to bundle Perth out for 120. While Kevon Cooper oversaw the dismantling operations, Pravin Tambe and James Faulkner played the role of reliable assistants.
The Perth opening pair of Liam Davis and Ashton Agar arrived with aggressive intentions and milked runs off Vikramjeet Malik’s two overs.
However, Faulkner and Shane Watson were smarter as they varied their lengths to dismiss the duo.
Simon Katich and Adam Voges limited the initial damage by adding 33 off 28 balls, but the introduction of Tambe brought the former’s downfall. After surviving a dropped chance, Katich misread a googly and stepped forward to drive. The ball, though, spun away and he was stumped.
Hilton Cartwright replaced the skipper but, 14 balls later, he joined the latter in the dugout as he was hit on the toe by a Cooper yorker, resulting in an lbw decision.
The 21-year-old’s departure initiated a period which saw six batsmen dismissed for 21 runs within 38 balls.
A last-wicket stand of 23 ensured Perth batted out its quota of overs, but its significance remained academic.
Even though Dravid was bowled for a duck in the very first over, RR’s ability to chase 121 was never in doubt.
Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Vishwanadh batted with a calmness which mellowed the opposition’s resolve, while soothing the tension brought about by the skipper’s early dismissal.
Rahane looked especially impressive as he notched his first fifty of the Champions League Twenty20.
RR no longer enters matches as the underdog; Dravid’s men are in top form.
Perth Scorchers: Liam Davis c Cooper b Faulkner 18 (12b, 3x4), Ashton Agar c Malik b Watson 10 (11b, 2x4), Simon Katich st Vishwanadh b Tambe 12 (18b, 2x4), Adam Voges c Faulkner b Cooper 27 (21b, 3x4), Hilton Cartwright lbw b Cooper 5 (7b), Ashton Turner b Cooper 11 (14b, 1x4), Tom Triffitt c & b Tambe 2 (5b), Joel Paris b Faulkner 2 (5b), Joe Mennie c Binny b Cooper 2 (12b), Jason Behrendorff (not out) 12 (12b, 1x4), Michael Beer (run out) 3 (4b); Extras (b-4, lb-2, w-8, nb-2): 16; Total (in 20 overs): 120.
Fall of wickets: 1-18 (Davis), 2-29 (Agar), 3-62 (Katich), 4-76 (Cartwright), 5-77 (Voges), 6-80 (Triffitt), 7-85 (Paris), 8-97 (Mennie), 9-97 (Turner).
Rajasthan Royals bowling: Ashok Menaria 2-0-11-0, Vikramjeet Malik 2-0-22-0, James Faulkner 4-0-16-2, Shane Watson 3-0-23-1, Stuart Binny 1-0-7-0, Pravin Tambe 4-0-17-2, Kevon Cooper 4-0-18-4.
Rajasthan Royals: Rahul Dravid b Behrendorff 0 (4b), Ajinkya Rahane (not out) 62 (53b, 5x4, 2x6), Sanju Vishwanadh (not out) 50 (42b, 6x4, 1x6); Extras (lb-1, w-8): 9; Total (for one wkt. in 16.3 overs): 121.
Fall of wicket: 1-1 (Dravid).
Perth Scorchers bowling: Jason Behrendorff 4-0-28-1, Joel Paris 4-0-28-0, Joe Mennie 2.3-0-22-0, Michael Beer 4-0-26-0, Hilton Cartwright 1-0-10-0, Ashton Agar 1-0-6-0.
Man-of-the-match: Kevon Cooper.