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Rajasthan seal valuable victory

Posted by James On 11:36 AM 0 comments

Rajasthan Royals 183 for 5 (Voges 45, Fazal 45) beat Kings XI Punjab 152 (Bisla 35, Tait 3-22, Trivedi 2-25) by 31 runs

Rajasthan Royals backed up a strong batting performance from Adam Voges and Faiz Fazal with a disciplined bowling effort that choked Kings XI Punjab after their top order had delivered a promising start. The 31-run win meant Rajasthan climbed to a joint-fourth position with three other teams on the points table, leaving Punjab, who have lost four out of five games, at the bottom. A blistering cameo by Manvinder Bisla had raised Punjab's hopes of scaling down a big target, but a combination of crafty bowling, agile fielding and some irresponsible batting crushed any possibility of a successful chase.

Though the margin of defeat indicates a dominating show by Rajasthan, Punjab had their chances. Their bowlers managed to fight back after a strong start by the Rajasthan openers but faltered at the death in the wake of an assault from Voges and Fazal. Kumar Sangakkara and Bisla blazed away in their reply, racing to 76 in the first six overs, the highest score of the tournament after the Powerplay. But clever variations from seamers Siddharth Trivedi and Munaf Patel, and some uninspiring batting from the rest of the line-up, cut short what was gearing up to be a more exciting fixture.

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20 overs Rajasthan Royals 183 for 5 (Voges 45, Fazal 45) v Kings XI Punjab

Kumar Sangakkara, at the toss, had hoped to restrict Rajasthan Royals to under 150, but Adam Voges and Faiz Fazal thwarted Kings XI Punjab's plans, adding 60 in 37 balls, to take their team to a formidable 183 for 5. With the heavy dew likely to play its part in the second innings and a Punjab line-up that, on paper, remains strong, the Rajasthan bowlers can expect a challenge. But some poor Punjab bowling at the start and the death, which Rajasthan cashed in on, could affect the outcome.

Voges had delivered a late surge for Rajasthan in their previous game, scoring a quickfire 37, and found the boundary with ease yet again, piercing the gaps brilliantly, backed up with fierce power. Joining Fazal after Yusuf Pathan had been dismissed in the 13th over, Voges showed early signs of having picked the areas he wished to score in. The gaps on either side, between long-on and deep midwicket and long-off and deep extra cover, were exploited, as Yuvraj Singh, Piyush Chawla and Irfan Pathan were taken for two fours and a six in consecutive overs.

Fazal, too, began fluently but ceded the floor to Yusuf and then Voges before opening up at the death. He, too, had impressed against Kolkata, and combined with Yusuf to take 14 off Shalabh Srivastava's over, and proceeded to launch Chawla over long-on for six. After focusing on singles and rotating the strike for much of the remaining innings, he seized on length deliveries to dispatch four boundaries in successive overs off Irfan and Rusty Theron to help give Rajasthan the edge.

Punjab's decision to field made perfect sense in conditions favourable for bowling early on. Sreesanth and Irfan Pathan, the opening bowlers, found considerable movement and swing. Getting the ball to shape consistently away from the batsmen, they managed to beat the outside edge on more than one occasion. But despite support from the track, they lacked control, often bowling too full or dragging the lengths way back.

A relieving sight for Rajasthan was the form of Michael Lumb, who had struggled in his two outings before this, limping to 10 against Royal Challengers Bangalore and suffering a first-ball duck at the hands of Kolkata. Today, he matched his aggressive partner Naman Ojha stroke for stroke in an encouraging opening stand. The short deliveries were slashed through and behind point, the slightly fuller ones were picked over mid-on. His defining shot came in the fourth over, when he charged down the track to Sreesanth, cracking him over the off-side field for a boundary.

Ojha targeted Sreesanth and left-arm seamer Srivastava. Sreesanth was punished for bowling short, while Srivastava paid for overpitching. But he fell, striking Sreesanth straight to mid-on and Lumb, after seeing off some more freebies from Srivastava, faltered with the introduction of Piyush Chawla's spin, deceived by a googly to be stumped.

Yusuf earned a reprieve when he was dropped by his brother Irfan, but there wasn't too much damage done when Irfan had his revenge, snaring him with a slower delivery. Though Punjab had made a comeback, useful contributions from the rest of the line-up continued to keep Rajasthan within reach of a sizeable score.

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