Swapnil Asnodkar, Ravindra Jadeja, Kamran Khan. You can now add Ajit Chandila to that list of rank unknowns who came to the limelight wearing Rajasthan Royals blue.
The unheralded off-break bowler grabbed four wickets, including a hattrick, to help the Royals keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
The 28-year-old recorded the ninth hattrick in IPL history to seal the job for Rahul Dravid and Co, after contrasting half-tons by Ajinkya Rahane and Shane Watson set a stiff 171-run target for the visitors. He also became the seventh bowler to have achieved this feat.
A disciplined bowling performance and poor shot selection by the Pune Warriors batsmen saw the Royals cruise to a 45-run win at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Sunday.
Given the new ball, Chandila got his first wicket off the fifth ball of the innings as Jesse Ryder skied one which Watson caught at mid-on. Next ball, Ganguly went down the track and failed to nudge a delivery that was down leg-side.
Wicketkeeper Sreevats Goswami effected a smart stumping before Ganguly could return to the crease. He completed his hat-trick off the first ball of his second over as Robin Uthappa looked to drive a ball that was outside off.
He failed to get bat to ball, and before he could ground his feet back into the crease, Goswami had effected another clever stumping to set Chandila off on a fist-pumping celebratory run. Shaun Tait, Watson and Johan Botha took five wickets among them to finish off the match.
Earlier, Rahane and Watson starred with the bat. Coming in at the fall of Dravid’s wicket, the Australian all-rounder wasted little time, hitting a six off Bhuvaneshwar Kumar off the third ball he faced.
Off the next ball he carted one over midwicket. Off the next over, by leg-spinner Rahul Sharma, Watson showed he isn’t all about
the power, hitting two boundaries, including one that was deftly carved past backward point. He reached his fifty much before Rahane, hitting part-timer Jesse Ryder for a massive six over mid-wicket to bring up the landmark.
However, Nehra, who was the lone PWI bowler to trouble the batsmen, got rid of Watson with a clever yorker. Nehra returned respectable figures of 3/23 off his allotted overs. After Watson’s dismissal, Rahane opened up and got 24 runs off his final 12 deliveries, after scoring 37 off his first 34. The late push made the total even more daunting, considering the woeful chasing record of the Pune Warriors, who twice this season have failed to knock off targets below 120 runs.