Rajasthan Royals' co-owner Shilpa Shetty celebrates her team's victory over Pune Warriors India during the T20 league match in Jaipur. (PTI)
Good starts are so important for victories. It is a sort of rule in every format of cricket, especially in limited overs. Ask any captain before the toss and he'll mention 'start' more often than not.
But so pathetic have Pune Warriors been that they remain at the bottom of the points table despite having the most fifty-run opening wicket stands in the tournament. They have five such partnerships, which include Sunday's. Table toppers Chennai Super Kings have just three.
It is something that has caused coach Allan Donald much anguish. No wonder he described coaching as a painstaking thing on the eve of this match. He mentioned frustration too and Sunday's five-wicket loss must have punctured his spirits even further. Scorecard
When both Aaron Finch and Robin Uthappa were batting, it seemed like this would eventually be the Warriors' day. The usually cool Royals skipper Rahul Dravid got frazzled enough to toss the ball to six different bowlers in the first eight overs.
They bettered the 96 they racked up in Chennai on April 15 by a run, and by the time they were separated, the Warriors were cruising at about nine an over. It was a rare occasion when the PWI batsmen following the openers chipped in usefully to set up a challenging target.
But Rajasthan Royals have Dravid at the helm, a man who has adapted to T20 format with surprising ease. After having tried Shane Watson at the top to partner Ajinkya Rahane in the last few games, he came out to give the young batsman company. It was a bold move considering that it has become the norm to send a power-hitter at the top to provide the fillip. Dravid thought otherwise and the Indian pair put on 98 to set the tone. And all with proper cricketing shots, most of them with a straight bat.
That foreign stars Watson and Brad Hodge flopped and Rahane too fell before the final push didn't matter much as Stuart Binny, a utility player to the core, chipped in with an invaluable 32 not out off 13 balls.