Rajasthan Royals have entered the semi-final of the Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20) 2013 beating Perth Scorchers by nine wickets in the Group A encounter at Japiur on Sunday. The unbeaten second wicket century stand of 120 between Ajinkya Rahane (62 off 53 balls) and Sanju Samson (50 off 42 balls) shepherded the run-chase with consummate ease.With this win, Royals top the group with 12 points.
Perth Scorchers, defending a modest total of 120, dismissed Rahul Dravid in the first over when left-arm seamer Jason Behrendorff went past the defence of the Rajasthan captain courtesy of an incoming delivery. Dravid played inside the line of the delivery and walked back off the fourth ball of the innings.
Samson was positive right from the outset and batted with confidence. The two flicks off Behrendorff got Samson going. Rahane was tested with a bouncer by Joel Paris. Rahane played an unconvincing hook shot but the ball sailed over fine-leg for a six. Samson was dismissive about the short ball. He hit Joe Minnie’s short ball in front of mid-wicket for a six. The required run-rate was under six runs per over after powerplay overs which helped Rajasthan’s cause. The home team was hell-bent to deliver the knock-out punch to the Scorchers. The duo — Rahane and Samson didn’t take undue chances and looked at getting their eyes in. The young batsmen were matching each other shot per shot. Rahane reached the half-century before Samson courtesy of a magnificent shot over covers off left-arm spinner Michael Beer. Samson followed the suit soon after, reaching his second fifty of the competition.
Earlier, Kevon Cooper (four for 18) helped Rajasthan Royals restrict Perth Scorchers to 120. The Perth innings fell apart in the middle part of the innings after the bowlers — Cooper and leg-spinner Pravin Tambe turned the game on its head. Tambe took two for 17 off his four overs.
The regular strikes didn’t help Perth’s cause after they were well placed at 61 for two in eight overs but introduction of leg-spinner Tambe accounted for Katich who gave him a charge and failed to connect. Samson had Perth skipper stumpted. From thereon it was work in progress for Scorchers who pinned their hopes on Australian One-Day International (ODI) specialist Voges.
The introduction of Cooper further dented Scorchers’ recovery. In his second over [12th of the innings] Hilton Cartwright was out leg-before and two balls later Voges dragged a slower delivery to long-on to leave the Australian outfit in a precarious position. Cooper got two wickets in his third over that had Perth in all sorts of trouble.
The final wicket partnership between Beer and Behrendorff added 22 for the final wicket but in the end Perth were well below the par score.
It was walk in the park for Rajasthan who are used to sterner challenges at Jaipur. The all-round performance is a big plus ahead of the semi-final. Scorchers discovered why Royals are impregnable at Sawai Mansingh Stadium. It was a lop-sided contest and in the end a routine win for Royuals ensured their ascention to the top of the table.
(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)