Rajasthan Royals batsman Ajinkya Rahane (R) plays a shot as Deccan Chargers wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara looks on during the IPL Twenty20 cricket match at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. AFP/Sajjad Hussain
The match between Rajasthan Royals and Deccan Chargers at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Tuesday saw 53 hits to the boundary (40 fours, 13 sixes). The most decisive moment, however, was when bat didn’t make any contact with the ball. Deliberately so!
Chasing a daunting 197, Rajasthan Royals’ required run-rate became steeper after a wasted first over. For the second over, Kumar Sangakkara threw the ball to South Africa speedster Dale Steyn.
A match ago, he’d bowled what will undoubtedly go down as one of the spells of the tournament —a 24-ball exhibition that yielded three wickets for the cost of 12 runs.
First ball of the second over, Rahul Dravid got a thick outside edge and the ball raced away to the boundary.
The next delivery, Steyn bowled one short and outside off, Dravid, like he's done thousands of times before, left it alone and watched it sail into Sangakkara’s wicketkeeping gloves. A leave in a T20 match!
That one act summed up the day for the Royals, even the pressure of chasing over 10 runs per over for a majority of their innings was not going to shake the Royals off their game plan.
If Dravid the textbook-correct batsman showed up at first, Dravid the improvising big-hitter soon took over.
The most exhilarating of those strokes was a massive six off Aussie medium-pacer Dan Christian. Dravid danced down the track, checked his shot, made the adjustment and lofted the ball over deep extra-cover.
At the other end, Ajinkya Rahane, the enforcer for much of this shine, struggled to keep pace with the 39-year-old.
However, by the time Owais Shah departed as the fourth Royals wicket, the innings had plateaued.
They required 62 off the last 28 deliveries. They needed a finish similar to the one JP Duminy had provided to the Chargers' innings in his 26-ball 58 with five hits over the boundary ropes… well over.
Enter Brad Hodge. The veteran Australian’s policy was simple — make room and try to connect as many with the bat as possible. Four straight fours off Steyn turned the momentum back in the Royals’ favour.
Useful contributions from Johan Botha, and unheralded Dishant Yagnik, who struck back-to-back boundaries off Steyn in the final over, sealed the match for the hosts.
That leave doesn’t look like that bad a choice, now, does it?Scorecard | The doosra | Cracking shots