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By Nishad Pai Vaidya
May 5, 2014
Rajasthan Royals have this knack of pulling rabbits out of their hats. The Sardar Patel Motera Stadium, Ahmedabad was witness to an exciting match in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 where Rajasthan stole victory from Kolkata Knight Riders grasp. After Rajasthan put up 170 on the board, Kolkata were on course when Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir put up a 121-run partnership where they dominated the bowling. But a six-wicket burst off only seven balls in the middle got Rajasthan right back in the game. Pravin Tambe was the star with a hat-trick. Ultimately, Rajasthan won the game by 10 runs in a tense finish.
For a major part of the Kolkata innings, it looked like they would win easily. But, then Shane Watson came in to bowl the 15th over with Kolkata on 121 for no loss. Gambhir then edged one to the wicketkeeper. Uthappa then followed soon when he holed out to mid-wicket for 65. Watson then finished the over by foxing Andre Russell with a slower ball that shattered his stumps. Yet, at 122 for three in 15 overs chasing 171, one would have backed Kolkata. But, Tambe turned the tide even further in the next over.
Manish Pandey charged to Tambe and was stumped off a wide down the leg-side. Yusuf Pathan then offered a simple return catch and Ryan ten Doeschate was trapped plumb in front with a full delivery. Tambe had taken a hat-trick in only two legitimate deliveries! In seven balls, Kolkata had slumped from 121 for no loss to 123 for six.
With all that carnage, it was easy to forget what happened earlier. Uthappa and Gambhir gave Kolkata a brilliant start, equaling Rajasthan’s effort of smashing 50 in the powerplay. However, they went onto make it a bigger partnership by dominating the bowlers. Initially, it was Uthappa who attacked, but Gambhir also moved into the zone with a few good shots.
The feature of Uthappa’s batting was the way he held his shape and played good cricketing shots. He was mindful of the changes in pace as Rajat Bhatia’s slower deliveries were smashed for six. One went over mid-wicket early in the innings and the other was flat-batted over long-off. On the other hand, Gambhir was more proactive, using his feet around, making room and playing through the line. In putting up 121 on the board, they looked in total control and threatened to take it all the way.
After that wicket-burst, Shakib kept Kolkata in the hunt with a few attacking strokes. Tim Southee was taken apart for 15 in the 18th over. But, Watson and James Faulkner finished it well. Suryakumar Yadav was kept quiet as he scored only nine off 17 balls.
Earlier in the day, Kolkata had won the toss and chose to bowl first. Rajasthan put up a good team performance with the bat as they raced to 170. Karun Nair and Ajinkya Rahane laid a solid foundation with their almost chanceless 50-run stand in the powerplay. The middle order also contributed with Sanju Samson and Shane Watson adding quick runs. In the last five overs, Rajasthan scored 54 at a time when Kolkata’s bowlers were hitting back. It was a well paced innings by Rajasthan, but the socrecard doesn’t reflect how well Kolkata bowled. The spinners Shakib and Sunil Narine were at it again as they bowled well in the middle overs.
Rajasthan Royals 170 for 6 in 20 overs (Karun Nair 44, Sanju Samson 37; Sunil Narine 2 for 28) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 160 for 6 in 20 overs (Robin Uthappa 65, Gautam Gambhir 54; Shane Watson 3 for 21, Pravin Tambe 3 for 26) by 10 runs.
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