The Kochi Tuskers Kerala had no trouble putting away a visibly demoralised Rajasthan Royals team, winning by eight wickets at the Holkar Cricket Stadium on Sunday. Kochi were left chasing a meagre target of 98 after their bowlers strangled the men in blue. And yet their solid bowling effort barely elicited a cheer from the crowd, who were far more animated when Shane Watson smacked three sixes in an over.
If there were any doubts about what a crowd comes to see at a T20 match, they were dispelled after the completion of the first innings of the game where Kochi won the toss and put Rajasthan in to bat. Brad Hodge was the most successful bowler, taking four wickets for 13 runs.
Rahul Dravid had spoken of the importance of executing the strategy drawn up for a game on the eve of the match. But the Royals batsmen did not seem to have got that message, with the exception of Ashok Menaria. His subdued but potentially important 31 could have been a useful foil for any of Royals' star batsmen. But Dravid was done in by a Sreesanth outswinger while Watson suffered a rush of blood after hitting three sixes in one over.
And Rajasthan Royals steadily lost wickets, folding up for 97 in 18.3 overs with S Sreesanth and Prasanth Parameswaran taking two wickets apiece. The defeat put them out of the playoffs while Kochi still nurse hopes of somehow making it.
By comparison, the Kochi batsmen were almost walking on air as they screamed along at a rate of nearly 14 runs an over. Brendon McCullum rode his luck on his way to a 12-ball 29. Following his and Mahela Jayawardene's dismissal, Brad Hodge kept smashing away with Parthiv Patel by his side. It was all over for Rajasthan in just 7.2 overs as the champions of the inaugural edition suffered their fourth successive defeat.
Hodge signed off with two fours off Shaun Tait's last three deliveries.