Brad Hodge‘s attacking innings of 46 not out propelled Rajasthan Royals to 183 for five in thir 20 overs against Highveld Lions in the Group A match at Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Wednesday.
Batting at No 6, Hodge played an attacking role scoring 46 off 23 deliveries to help Rajasthan score a total in excess of 180. He smashed the Lions bowlers to all parts of the ground to pose a challenging total. He meted out special treatment to Sohail Tanvir in the final over carting him for 21 in the final over. Tanvir, who played for Royals in IPL 2008, was in the opposite camp this time. He dismissed Ajinkya Rahane in the fourth over when the Rajasthan opener tried to take the aerial route but couldn’t end up beating mid-off.
Sanju Samson, the man-of-the-match from the previous game, kick-started his innings with a couple of boundaries off Hardus Viljoen. In the same over Samson was fortuitous as he was dropped at slips. He was dismissed in the next over by Lonwabo Tsotsobe. The first set of powerplay overs yielded 36 runs at the loss of two wickets. Rahul Dravid was looking well-set and Royals expected him to anchor the innings.
Dravid and Shane Watson added 31 for the third wicket as the duo looked comfortable taking the singles and occasionally going for their shots. Viljoen leaked runs as he was carted for 16 runs in the eighth over and Royals’ innings got the much-needed impetus. Dwaine Pretorious picked up Dravid in the tenth over when the Royals captain fell for 31 off 30 deliveries.
Stuart Binny and Watson then took the attack to the Lions’ bowlers. After hitting a couple of boundaries at the start of the innings, Binny looked ominous for Lions. In the 13th over, left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso was attacked by Watson who started the over with a huge six over long-on. The next delivery was hammered down the ground for a four. Binny swept the fourth ball towards fine-leg and Watson finished the over with a straight six.
Watson was dismissed in the next over after the sortie. He attempted to hit Tsotsobe down the ground but managed to sky the ball which was caught at long-on for 33 off 24 deliveries.
Hodge then pressed on the accelerator along with Binny as Rajasthan innings entered the zone where both the batsmen were batting in the fifth gear. Petersen brought back Phangiso for his final over after Watson’s dismissal. Binny took him to the cleaners hitting him for a six over long-on and then an inside-out shot over covers followed. Just when Binny was nipped in the bud immediately after that in the next over as he missed a full ball. He scored 38 off 20 balls and helped Rajasthan towards a challenging total.
In the final overs crafty Tanvir used his variation to good effect but Hodge took Rajasthan past 180. Hodge’s pyrotechnics might prove to be decisive in the final analysis.
Winning the toss Lions captain Alviro Petersen decided to bowl first knowing the advantage the side faces chasing the target. Lions took a cue from Royals, who had not played any spinner in their previous game against the Mumbai Indians, by leaving out leg-spinner Imran Tahir. Thami Tsolekile was in the team to give Lions’ batting an added dimension. Royals brought in leg-spinner Pravin Tambe in place of Rahul Shukla.
Can Lions chase down the target and breach Rajasthan’s fortress?
Rajasthan Royals 183 for 5 in 20 overs (Brad Hodge 46*, Stuart Binny 38; Lonwabo Tsotsobe 2 for 26) vs Highveld Lions.
(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)