Rajasthan Royals got their Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2013 campaign off to a good start with a seven-wicket win over Indian Premier League (IPL) 2013 champions Mumbai Indians in the inaugural match of the tournament at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur. Rajasthan thus lead Group A in the points table.
Chasing a modest 143 for victory, the Royals got home with two balls to spare thanks to a fine half-century from Sanju Samson and a three-wicket haul by medium pacer Vikramjeet Malik.
A late blitz from the Mumbai Indians took them to a respectable 142 for seven, after Rohit Sharma (44) and Kieran Pollard (42) buoyed the score from a shaky 43 for four.
Rajasthan skipper Rahul Dravid, playing in his final tournament, surprised a few by deciding to bowl after winning the toss, to the delight of his young counterpart Rohit, who said he would have put Mumbai in to bat as well. But the oodles of experience and shrewdness showed as Dravid’s ploy worked, with Mumbai losing four wickets in the first nine overs itself.
Dravid used six bowlers in those nine overs, astutely shuffling his pack and keeping the Mumbai batsmen guessing. Not blessed with the presence of superstars in his team, unlike the opposition, Dravid used the Moneyball technique with great efficiency, as bowlers such as Vikramjeet Malik (three for 24) and Stuart Binny (one for 13) were among the wickets. Meanwhile, Australians Shane Watson and James Faulkner, and the relatively unknown Indians Ashok Menaria and Rahul Shukla bowled economically and kept Mumbai under pressure.
Rohit, Mumbai’s best batsman in the 2013 IPL, then steadied the ship along with a rather sedate Kieran Pollard for the better part of 13 overs, before going for a cheeky flick over fine-leg for six by using the pace of Watson. In the medium-pacer’s next over, Rohit carted him over cow corner for a huge six, before his smartness got the better of him as he nicked to the keeper, trying to guide it down to third man. Rohit was gone for a well-made 44 off 37 balls, but you couldn’t help but think his team needed him to stick around longer, with the score on 95 for five in the 15th over.
The Pollard bear then decided to wake up from hibernation as he pummelled two sixes and as many boundaries in the final few overs, before losing his wicket in the last over of the innings. Nathan Coulter-Nile then hit Malik for a four and a six to take the score past 140 and give his team’s bowlers a defendable total.
Coulter-Nile wasn’t done yet as he got the wicket of Dravid (1) early, before Ajinkya Rahane and Samson embarked on a solid and watchful second-wicket partnership. The duo, scoring at just the right required rate of around seven, looked to be cruising towards their target before a miserly Rishi Dhawan was finally rewarded for his efforts with the wicket of Rahane (33).
As Watson came to join young Samson, Dhawan completed his spell with figures of 4-0-17-1, becoming the second man from Himachal Pradesh to impress in the match, after Malik’s three for 24 for the Royals. Meanwhile, Rajasthan brought up their hundred in the 15th over, as Watson settled in and Samson continued with his typically classy innings. The 18-year-old, one of the finds of the IPL 2013, brought up his half-century in 42 balls, becoming the youngest batsman to score a fifty in the tournament.
Pollard finally got the much needed breakthrough in the 16th over to make it 107 for three, as Samson (54) holed out to Dwayne Smith at deep mid-wicket to provide a glimmer of hope to the tourists. But Watson and new man Stuart Binny held their nerve and took their team home in the final over of the game.
Mumbai Indians 142 for 7 in 20 overs (Rohit Sharma 44, Kieran Pollard 42; Vikaramjeet Malik 3 for 24) lost to Rajasthan Royals 148 for 3 in 19.4 overs (Ajinkya Rahane 33, Sanju Samson 54; Rishi Dhawan 1 for 17) by 7 wickets.