Rajasthan Royals registered a resounding victory over Kolkata Knight Riders in the DLF-IPL III here on Saturday.
Knocking down the stumps of Manoj Tiwary in his second over and Brad Hodge in the first ball of his fourth over, Yusuf Pathan exulted as if to signal an emphatic victory for a beleaguered side in the eight-team competition.
Pathan's off breaks on the dry surface — the ball being tossed to him by skipper Shane Warne to open the attack in defence of 168 — struck the telling blows that allowed no leeway for Kolkata Knight Riders to attempt a win whose run rate that had climbed to nearly 18 in the last three overs.
Returning to its home ground at Motera for the second of its four matches scheduled at the Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium, Royals defeated Knight Riders by 34 runs.
Royals owed its remarkable comeback to a number of players. The likes of Faiz Fazal and Adam Voges brought an element of freshness to the Royals' batting. They struck the big blows in opening six-over Power Play and in the fag end of the first half when the Australian's smashing shots set up an eight plus runs an over target for Knight Riders.
Always in pursuit of achieving excellence and surpass himself from being a run of the mill Indian first class cricketer, Naman Ojha continued to impress with his bold and creative ways of sending the ball to the fence.
Abhishek Jhunjhunwala too demonstrated the urgency before falling a victim under pressure to step up the scoring rate in the first ball of the 18th over.
For the first time since Pathan mounted a counter-attack against Mumbai Indians, Royals gave sufficient hints of competing against an opponent that found its bearing in its first two matches against the 2009 finalists in South Africa.
Michael Lumb's first ball duck against Ashok Dinda, trapped plumb in front, did not for a moment present Fazal as a batsman with nerves in the middle. The left-hander survived a first-ball shout for leg before; it may have been a marginal case of Dinda's second ball pitching an inch or so outside the leg stump that prevented umpire Rudi Koertzen from giving the marching orders to the newcomer to.
But Fazal's 23-ball 31 was a magnificent effort and set into motion a recovery from a dismal start.
Royals appeared well on its way to post a formidable total at 56 for two at the end of the first 36 balls, but left-arm spinner Murali Kartik and seamer Shane Bond turned out to be adept in limiting the boundary shots.
The dismissal of Jhunjhunwala and Paras Dogra in the 18th over demanded a compelling display of clever hitting from Voges; a lift drive and a slap-shot produced 17 runs in the last over sent down by Ishant and the Australian remained unbeaten on 38, a fine knock that took Royals to its second best total in four matches with Warne winning the toss for the first time.
Rajasthan Royals: M. Lumb lbw b Dinda 0 (1b), N. Ojha (run out) 27 (18b,5x4) , F. Fazal c Pujara b Bond 31 (23b, 6x4), A. Jhunjhunwala c Ganguly b Ishant 45 (36b,5x4), Y. Pathan c Hodge b Dinda 15 (14b, 2x4), A. Voges (not out) 37 (22b, 2x4, 2x6), P. Dogra c Saha b Ishant 0 (1b), S. Warne c Tiwary b Bond 1 (2b), Munaf (not out) 4 (3b), Extras (lb-4, b-1, w-3): 8, Total (for seven wkts. in 20 overs) 168.
Fall of wickets: 0-1, 2-42, 3-72, 4-105, 5-142, 6-143, 7-146.
Kolkata Knight Riders bowling: Dinda 4-0-28-2, Ishant 4-0-33-2, Bond 4-0-32-2, Mathews 3-0-33-0,
Kartik 4-0-25-0, Hodge 1-0-12-0.
Kolkata Knight Riders: M. Tiwary b Pathan 11 (13b, 2x4), B. Hodge b Pathan 36 (34b, 3x4), C. Pujara b Trivedi, 29 (25b, 4x4), S. Ganguly c Voges b Patel 33 (29b, 3x4), O. Shah (not out) 19 (17b, 2x6), A. Mathews (run out) 0 (0b), W. Saha (not out) 1 (2b), Extras (lb-4, w-1): 5, Total (for five wkts. in 20 overs) 134.
Fall of wickets: 1-18, 2-68, 3-95, 4-132, 5-132.
Rajasthan Royals bowling: Pathan 4-0-23-2, Tait 4-0-29-0, Munaf 3-0-20-1, Trivedi 4-0-26-1, Voges 1-0-5-0, Warne 4-0-27-0.