THE Sawai Mansingh Stadium remained a fortress for Rajasthan Royals, who made it eight out of eight wins at the venue by bulldozing Kings XI Punjab with five overs remaining. Opener Michael Lumb pummelled 83 off 43 balls to deliver Rajasthan their third straight victory, which lifted them to joint second spot, an unlikely position for a team that was written off after starting with three defeats in a row.
(Scores: Rajasthan Royals 157 for 1 (Lumb 83, Ojha 44) beat Kings XI Punjab 153 for 6 (Jayawardene 44, Trivedi 2-20) by nine wicket)s
Rajasthan sprinted to the highest total of the season in the first five overs (65), after Punjab had mucked about to gather the least runs in the final five overs (27), reflecting the gulf between the two sides.
Punjab reverted to being the bumbling bunch that has been entrenched at the bottom of the table all season: the batting lost fizz after a bubbly start, the fielding was the usual butter-fingered effort, and the bowling lacked inspiration.
Mahela Jayawardene top-scored again, and Yuvraj Singh briefly showed off his awesome hitting, but with the rest failing to contribute anything substantial Punjab ended up with an inadequate total.
The variety of sweeps against the spinners and the trademark carves behind point off the quicks were the highlight of Jayawardene’s innings, in which only seven runs were scored in front of the wicket. He had some luck as well, a leading edge six to third man off Aditya Dole, reprieved when Shane Warne reacted slowly to a caught-and-bowled chance and dropped by Dole at deep square leg.
With Kumar Sangakkara’s poor tournament continuing, it was Yuvraj who provided some support for him. Warne was at his bewitching best in the previous game, but had no answer to Yuvraj today. First, Yuvraj muscled him over midwicket for a six, and two overs later clobbered two flat sixes and a four to take 24 runs off eight balls against the Rajasthan captain.
The match turned in the next over from Dole: he had Yuvraj drag a short ball onto the stumps and Jayawardene edged to a wide slip. That sucked all the momentum out of the Punjab innings, and they never recovered.
Ravi Bopara pottered about before being run-out after racing down the track for a second run which his partner, Irfan Pathan, was not interested in. Watson varied his length and pace well towards the death, and Siddharth Trivedi’s steady servings of slower deliveries proved hard to score off, so much so that Punjab couldn’t hit even one boundary in that period.
The Punjab score looked insufficient, but it was not as measly as Lumb and Naman Ojha made it seem. The match was essentially decided after the fourth over of the chase, in which Lumb lashed fast bowler Rusty Theron for 20 runs to blast Punjab to 55 for 0.
The template was set in the first over, when Ramesh Powar made a hash of a simple fielding chance to give away two extra runs, and Sreesanth followed that up with the gift of a short ball that was pulled for four by Lumb.
Sangakkara shuffled his bowlers around but to no avail: Lumb picked off the spinners with a bunch of sweeps and reverse-sweeps, while showcasing his full range of strokes against the quicks. The 100 came up in the ninth over when Irfan was caned for four fours, and Lumb was also eyeing his century.
He was dismissed in the next over, but Ojha, who has been quiet when Lumb was blasting, took charge of the chase, and with the help of Yusuf Pathan finished off the game in the 15th over. (Cricinfo)