Smith, Faulkner ruin Yuvi show

Smith, Faulkner ruin Yuvi show

In a proverbial pulling the victory from the jaws of defeat, Rajasthan Royals scored a five-wicket win in a high-scoring thriller against Royal Challengers Bangalore here at the Chinnaswamy stadium on Sunday.  

 
Chasing Royal Challengers’ massive 190 for five, Rajasthan were staring at certain defeat after slipping to 82 for four at the end of the 11th over. Steven Smith (48, 21b, 4x4, 4x6) and James Faulkner (41, 17b, 3x4, 3x6), however, shared a match-winning 33-ball 85-run stand for the unbroken sixth-wicket to script Royals’ jail-break with seven balls to spare.

With Royals needing 65 runs from the last four overs, man-of-the-match Faulkner began to turn the tide, plundering 18 runs off the 17th over by Mitchell Starc that went for a total of 21 runs. His partner Smith took an erratic Ashok Dinda to the cleaners in the next, clobbering the paceman for 23. With the equation reduced to 18 off 12, the only point of interest was if the match would drag on to the final over. Varun Aaron ensured that the proceedings will be over in five legitimate deliveries, conceding 21 runs to break the hearts of the capacity crowd that were dreaming of a home win.

However, it was opener Karun Nair’s 39-ball 56 that gave Royals the early momentum in their chase.  The sixth loss left Challengers’ hopes in jeopardy while Royals’ sixth win further strengthened their play-off chances.

One had to feel sorry for Yuvarj Singh whose brilliant all-round show (83 off 38 and 4/35) came to naught. Under intense pressure after managing a modest 144 at just over 20 in his eight previous visits to the crease, Yuvraj struck a blinder to haul Bangalore’s innings from a precarious situation before bamboozling Royals’ batsmen with his left-arm spin to bring Challengers within striking distance of their fourth win.

Desperate call

Desperate situations call for desperate measures and Virat Kohli walking out to open the innings along with Chris Gayle appeared to be one such move after opting to bat first. But not all desperate calls pay the desired results and as it turned out, Kohli was gone after a 9-ball struggle. Gayle was no better either.

The southpaw failed to read the myriad googlies which leg-spinners Pravin Tambe and Rahul Tewatia bowled. Gayle chased one of them and was caught smartly behind the wickets. Even as wicketkeeper and the bowler appealed in unison for a caught-behind verdict, umpire Rod Tucker was signalling wide but with Gayle walking away, the Australian official reversed his decision. Some Fairplay points there for RCB but it would have hardly impressed the team management.

Vijay Zol, who replaced Sachin Rana, showed promise with some crunchy strokes but the young batsman too was done in by a Tewatia googly and at 40 for three, the all too familiar tale began to unfold. Halfway through their innings, the Challengers had laboured to 57 for three and a total of 150 appeared a distant possibility. De Villiers held the lone hope but little did one expect Yuvraj would go on to become the main protagonist of Bangalore’s massive total. The southpaw, who swept almost everything in front of him at the beginning of his innings, grew in confidence, producing his vintage stuff. He peppered the stands with one attractive six after another as the Chinnaswamy faithfuls finally began to warm up to the costliest IPL player.

It seemed as though the roles have been reversed with AB De Villiers struggling to time the ball well and Yuvraj striking the ball clean and long. Though the South African came in the eighth over, it wasn’t until the 16th over that he struck his first boundary, a pulled six off Kane Richardson.  It was the 20th ball that de Villiers had faced and with Yuvraj continuing in the same vein, the near capacity crowd was on its feet through the rest of the innings. With Yuvarj and De Villiers on a six-hitting spree, Challengers gathered 133 runs in the last 10 overs and a staggering 84 of them coming in the final five overs.
        

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