Sunday, April 19, 2009

Rajasthan Royals vs Royal Challengers Bangalore

The 2nd match of the evening started in an incredible fashion. Peiterson captaining the Bangalore side, won the toss & decided to bat first, sending in New Zealand sensation Jesse Ryder along with Robin Utthapa. But in the very first two deliveries, Dimitri Mascerenhas, opening the bowling for the Rajasthan team, had sent back Ryder & then Ross Taylor….with the score sheet still blank……a dream start for the Champions to this tournament. Enter Peiterson at 2 down, & immediately takes the attack to the opposition, with a cracking boundary. The near capacity crowd already on their feet & action sizzling the ground. With runs hard to come by, Peiterson & Utthapa resort to some cheeky singles, but the pressure finally claims the wicket of Utthapa, who seems to have lost his attacking cricket, again to Mascerenhas, bringing the old warhorse Rahul Dravid to restore some semblance to the batting. The much touted & hyped Kamran Khan, with a left arm slinging action, comes for some battering by Pieterson, but the Bangalore Challengers stay at a very dismal 29-3 at the end of the fielding restrictions of 6 overs. Mascerenhas finally ends his 4 over quota with enviable figures of 3 for 20, having pushed the RCB to the mat.
Rahul showed glimpses of his class by peppering a couple of sweetly timed boundaries, while Peiterson continued to be aggressive, carving a recovery of sorts. But aggression without caution spells doom, & Peiterson went to the big Henderson for 32 to a brilliant catch at midwicket, bringing batting talent Virat Kolhi to the crease, with RCB in deep trouble. However with spinning magician Warne casting a spell, Virat did not last long getting bowled all ends up, & was soon after followed by Akhil. Figures of 2 for 18 by the spin maestro & promising a lot more as the tournament progresses. He had each & every batsman struggling to catch the line & turn…..and huge turns on that.
Rahul continued a lone vigil, scoring his third IPL fifty, silencing a host of critics on the way. He ended up with 66 invaluable runs off just 48 deliveries, going out to a slog shot in the last over. Two of the master batsmen of all times, Rahul & Sachin had shown the world today that there was no short cuts to technique & class…… it would always prevail, in any format of the game. An important lesson for all who follow cricket.
RCB ended at 133, a total which looked almost impossible midway through…..a total that looked fighting enough to start with.

Rajasthan Royals started the chase with their regular opening pair of hunky Graeme Smith & duminitive Swapnil Asnodkar to the bowling of P Kumar, but both left early with Asnodkar failing to open his account holing out in the first over itself & Smith going to a catch in the slips in the third over. Suddenly RR were feeling the heat of the chase with scoreline reading 14 for 2 at the end of 6 overs of fielding restrictions, without a single boundary to the total, & a pathetic run rate of 2.35. What was compounding problems for RR was that batsmen were not looking for singles at all. While Praveen Kumar had choked the batting at his end, Dale Steyn was quite erratic with wides from his end. It was now left to Henderson,a T20 specialist, to resurrect the innings along with Yusuf Pathan, who walked in at the fall of the 3rd wicket in N Patel. But with Henderson also falling to Ryder, & Mascerenhas going out to a suicidal run out, half the side was back in the dug out with only 28 on the board. Suddenly RCB were all over the park, fielding with intensity & looking hungry to win. Next to walk in was Ravindra Jadeja, but he too along with Yusuf Pathan perished in successful deliveries to the guiles of Anil Kumble. Score 47 for 7. Warne was the next to go at 53 for 8. Munaf, never reliable, either with bat or bowl followed suit immediately after, & finally the pathetic batting performance ended with 58 on board, lowest ever in IPL till now. The Champions were humbled fair & square by 75 runs.
Anil Kumble getting 5 wickets for 5…… unbelievable under any standards & Rahul walking away with the Man of the Match award in the end.

Cricket is a great leveller & it was aptly displayed today in both the matches. The favourites were made to bite the dust & the forgotten heroes claimed the centre stage.
So with the last year’s finalist, both CSK & RR losing their opening ties, throws the tournament wide open. It also tells us that this time around it will not be just bam wham cricket, with tall scores….in fact it would be a real test of character for the players to perform. Any score in excess of 150 should be defendable & the bowlers will have a lot to cheer for as well.

Let us look forward to some top drawer cricket ahead.