Ross Taylor was the hero for Rajasthan as the New Zealander smashed the Royals to a third consecutive home win in a six-wicket triumph over hapless Pune.
Chasing the visitors total of 143 for seven in Jaipur, Taylor hit an unbeaten 47 to power the Royals home with just three balls left to spare. The result sees Shane Warne’s men move to the top of the IPL pile while Pune – on the back of their sixth straight defeat – languish at the foot of the table.
A moderately challenging target had been drifting further and further away from Rajasthan before Taylor’s fireworks display including four fours and two sixes – one of which was a massive 101-meter blow off Alfonso Thomas.
The home side were precariously placed at 59 for three in the 11th over when the impressive Rahul Sharma (3 for 13) removed Johan Botha for 12.
Ashok Menaria made a breezy 29 from 22 balls before he became Sharma’s third victim, caught in the deep by a fantastic Thomas effort. Taylor and Ajinka Rahane were still 52 runs short of victory when the pair came together at 92 for four, Sharma having completed a maiden-wicket and Pune harbouring serious hopes of a much needed win.
Taylor however responded immediately by taking 17 runs off Murali Karthik’s 16th over – a vital move in the context of the game. The experience New Zealander continued to chance his arm and with the benefit of his fair share of good fortune – dropped on 31 by compatriot Nathan McCullum – as he and a calm and collected Rahane guided the Royals home, the 23-year old hitting a stylish late cut for the winning runs.
Earlier the visitors posted 143 for seven after being made to bat first by home skipper Shane Warne.
Jesse Ryder was the prime target of Warne’s move to open the bowling with off spinner Johan Botha, and while the Kiwi briefly got the better of Botha with two boundaries, he would soon fall into the trap to be stumped for 18.
Ryder’s opening partner Manish Pandey continued to play anchor while Robin Uthappa set about driving the Pune charge in the highest stand of the innings, worth 46 runs. Uthappa was near his best in clubbing seven fours, but he would succumb to Warne at just the wrong time, looping the ball up to keeper Dishant Yagnik to be out for 35 from 21 deliveries.
Captain Yuvraj was denied the chance to continue his recent form as he was run out at the bowler’s – Pandey’s straight drive catching the outstretched fingers of Siddharth Trivedi – and the five sluggish middle overs that followed the skipper’s dismissal returned just 22 runs as the Royals tightened the screws on Pune.
During that barren period Siddarth also snared Pandey for 30 from 31 deliveries, while Harpreet Singh became Shane Watson’s (1 for 19) only victim as he perished for 13.
It was therefore left to Mithun Manhas and Nathan McCullum to power the final stretch of the Warriors innings with Manhas hitting 24 from 19 deliveries and McCullum firing a quick 11 not out to fetch 15 runs from Trivedi’s 20th over. Cricket365