A fantastic batting performance saw the Rajasthan Royals post 179 against the Mumbai Indians. Ajinkya Rahane anchored the innings all along with a patient and a few cameos helped Rajasthan to their eventual score. It wasn’t an easy day for the Mumbai bowlers by any means.
The wicket at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium has helped the seamers this season, but Rahul Dravid won the toss and elected to bat. Rajasthan had two changes as Shanthakumaran Sreesanth missed out and Ankeet Chavan replaced him. Dishant Yagnik donned the wicket-keeping gloves in place of Sanju Samson. Mumbai were unchanged from their previous game.
Rahane and Shane Watson were up against Mitchell Johnson and Lasith Malinga in the early overs. The Mumbai bowlers had them play and miss a few times, but Rahane found the boundaries to keep the scoreboard ticking.
Rishi Dhawan was introduced as early as the fourth over and Watson welcomed him with a huge six over mid-wicket. Ponting brought Ojha into the attack in the fifth over, but Rahane carted him for his first six.
Watson and Rahane were vindicating Dravid’s decision to bat first as Rajasthan’s fifty came up in the sixth over. Even Malinga wasn’t spared as Watson carted him four fours in the last over of the powerplay. Rajasthan finished the powerplay on 58 for no loss.
Mumbai had their first success in the eight over as Pollard had Watson caught behind for 31. In a surprising move, Rajasthan promoted the wicket-keeper Yagnik to number three. That was an inspired call as he announced his arrival with a four and went on to play a fantastic cameo. He then smashed Pollard for a huge six over mid-wicket in the tenth over.
Rahane played the role of the sheet anchor, even as Yagnik took the attack to the Mumbai bowling. Rajasthan’s 100 came up in the 12th over as Yagnik cut Dhawan for a four. Rahane and Yagnik completed their fifty partnership off only 33 balls as Rajasthan were building a solid base for an assault in the slog overs.
Harbhajan Singh got the all important wicket of Yagnik in the 14th over for 34. He tried to reverse sweep, but only ended up giving a catch to short-third man. The move had worked wonders for Rajasthan and they sent Stuart Binny to build on the platform. However, he did not last long and was run-out.
Rajasthan slowed down a touch, but Brad Hodge shifted gears with a huge six over square leg off Harbhajan. Rahane was going smooth and completed his half-century off 46 balls. With two overs to go, Rajasthan were 153 for three and needed quick runs to get to a formidable score.
Malinga bowled a good penultimate over as he conceded only seven. However, the last over by Johnson went for plenty as Hodge welcomed him with a massive six over square leg. Rahane then finished the innings with three fours.
Mumbai’s famed batting line-up now faces a huge target on a wicket where the Rajasthn bowlers fancy their chances
Brief Scores: Rajasthan Royals 179 for 3 in 20 overs (Ajinkya Rahane 68*, Dishant Yagnik 34; Harbhajan Singh 1 for 26, Kieron Pollard 1 for 24) vs Mumbai Indians