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Royals bask in Shane-shine

india Updated: May 09, 2012 01:43 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times
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First it was Chris Gayle in Bangalore. Then it was Virender Sehwag in Pune before Cameron White produced his robust best both at Pune and Cuttack.

If such instances hadn't fully exposed the lacklustre bowling attack of Pune Warriors, then Tuesday provided the latest instance of a power-hitter dispatching the Warriors' wayward bowling to all corners of the park.

Shane Watson blazed to an unbeaten 90 off just 51 balls to extend the Warriors' sorry series of defeats to six games, by handing a seven-wicket victory for the Rajasthan Royals. More importantly, while Watson got the Royals right back into contention for making it to the playoffs, he eliminated the technical possibility of the Warriors remaining alive in the competition by winning their last four games, including Tuesday's tie.

Mastering conditions
During Sehwag's 48-ball 87 not out at the venue, the Warriors found out how a great batsman doesn't get bogged down by a slow wicket. And the same story was repeated on Tuesday as the Australian all-rounder gave the Warriors batsmen a lesson on how to bat on a surface that's not ideal for strokeplay.

All that Watson did was to either get to the pitch of the ball and hoick the ball into the stands - as he did twice off Murali Kartik in the third over of the innings - or wait patiently for the ball to reach him and then do whatever he liked - as was displayed during the nudges off his pads.

Once he succeeded in doing that, the loose balls came in plenty with Ashish Nehra turning out to be the worst bowler of the lot yet again. While the bowlers failed to restrict Watson's onslaught, they were not helped a wee bit by their batting unit which failed to put up a respectable total on the board yet again.

Struggle continues
Sourav Ganguly has been struggling to put bat to ball even against net bowlers. So, when he decided to open against the express pace of Shaun Tait and Watson, it's surely going to be a lop-sided battle. And it turned out exactly that way. After somehow surviving for the better part of the field-restriction overs, Ganguly finally top-edged Watson to be caught by Ankeet Chavan.

Neither Ganguly nor opening partner Michael Clarke succeeded in giving the innings any sort of impetus in the first six overs. The trend continued as the Warriors managed just five fours in the innings -the lowest in IPL V so far - to finish with a total that was well below par.