Aravind's strikes put the brakes on RR's batting; Gayle again at his devastating best
The farewell for Shane Warne at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium was not the desired one. Chris Gayle expectedly spoilt it.
Rajasthan Royals was beaten by Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Indian Premier League engagements at this venue came to an end with the home team unsure of a place in the play-offs.
Led by Virat Kohli in place of an injured Daniel Vettori, Royal Challengers with this nine-wicket win has almost sealed a play-offs slot with 15 points and three matches in hand. RR has 11 from 12 matches.
Gayle dominated the contest as he is known to. He needed no footwork as he mauled the bowlers from his stance position. A few times he danced down to meet the ball with disdain and landed it among the spectators.
One of those shots came against Warne and one against Ashok Menaria. It was a mis-match, thanks to Gayle. The West Indian just toyed with the bowlers.
Warne made the first dent in the RCB innings but let go Gayle's offering at mid-off. It was to prove a costly lapse.
Gayle made merry with some astonishing hitting, straight and square. One of his sweeps travelled with lightning speed. With Gayle in such a mood, there was little that RR could do except admire his amazing range of strokes.
His distinctive manner of batting was too hot for RR to handle on a pitch that played true. Gayle too played true to his reputation and RCB prospered on the strength of his presence at the crease.
The last match for Warne at his ‘home' venue saw the team make an earnest effort at producing a fitting gift for the coach-cum-player-cum-mentor.
The focus remained on Rajasthan Royals, which also needed to win to stay in contention for a spot in the play-offs. It was a tough match given the challenges it brought.
Shane Watson lit the course early and Rahul Dravid joined in with a lot of spirit. The RR innings was cruising, the bowlers wore a confused look, and the exaggerated celebrations on the field at the fall of every wicket only drove home the significance attached to the contest by RCB.
The early assault by Watson and Dravid threatened to aggravate RCB's woes but then two strikes in the same over by left-arm medium pacer S. Aravind, who was later adjudged Man-of-the-Match for his efforts, put a halt to RR's ambitions of posting a huge target.
Watson clubbed the ball with his customary ease and style. He was shaping up well when he swatted an innocuous ball that travelled straight to A.B. de Villiers.
Dravid matched the burly Aussie with some delightful shots. A few lofted ones suggested a change in approach by Dravid before a drive along the carpet confirmed his love for correct batting.
Ironically, he perished to an uncharacteristic attempt to whip the ball. Watson and Dravid fell within the space of three balls and RR suffered.
Even though there was not a batsman who could dominate the RCB attack, the home team managed to put up a total it could fight with, provided it snared Gayle or Dilshan early.
Sadly, to the chagrin of the home spectators, it did not happen. RCB cruised quite comfortably to make it six wins in a row.
Rajasthan Royals: S. Watson c de Villiers b Arvind 34 ( 29b, 3x4, 2x6), R. Dravid c and b Arvind 37 ( 31b, 6x4), A. Rahane (run out) 17 ( 10b, 1x4, 1x6), J. Botha c A. Karthik b Arvind 19 ( 20b, 1x4), R. Taylor c Kaif b Langeveldt 13 ( 13b), A. Menaria c Kaif b Gayle 8 ( 6b, 1x4), A. Raut (not out) 5 ( 8b), D. Yagnik (not out) 2 ( 5b); Extras (b-1, lb-1, nb-2, w-7): 11; Total (for six wkts in 20 overs): 146.
Fall of wickets: 1-73, 2-73, 3-102, 4-122, 5-124, 6-133.
Royal Challengers Bangalore bowling: Zaheer 4-0-23-0, Arvind 4-0-34-3, Langeveldt 4-0-26-1, Gayle 3-0-23-1, Kohli 3-0-17-0, Kazi 2-0-21-0.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: C. Gayle (not out) 70 ( 44b, 6x4, 4x6), T. Dilshan c Taylor b Warne 38 ( 24b, 8x4), V. Kohli (not out) 39 ( 34b, 3x4, 1x6); Extras (b-1, lb-1, w-2): 4; Total (for one wkt in 17 overs): 151.
Fall of wicket: 1-68.
Rajasthan Royals bowling: Watson 2-0-19-0, Botha 4-0-42-0, Pankaj 2-0-23-0, Trivedi 2-0-12-0, Warne 4-0-26-1, Taylor 1-0-11-0, Menaria 2-0-16-0.
Man-of-the-Match: S. Aravind .