IPL 2013: Pune Warriors beat Rajasthan Royals by 7 wickets, record first victory of season

Aaron Finch (right) top-scored for Pune, making 64 © IANS

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

Pune: Apr 11, 2013

Pune Warriors India finally have a reason to celebrate at the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2013 as they recorded their first victory of the season with a seven-wicket victory over the Rajasthan Royals.

It was a good team effort as their bowlers did well to restrict Rajasthan to 145 after Rahul Dravid had set a good platform. Then, a brilliant opening partnership all but sealed the deal for Pune.

Dravid won the toss and elected to bat first. Rajasthan were forced to make a few changes as Shane Watson, Rahul Shukla and Shaun Tait were out injured. In came Kusal Perera, Harmeet Singh and James Faulkner to replace the trio. Yuvraj Singh had missed the last game due to injury and came in place of Manish Pandey for Pune. Pune also swapped Marlon Samuels with Aaron Finch.

After Rajasthan lost a wicket off the first ball of the game, Dravid entered the field and stitched together a good partnership with Ajinkya Rahane. Dravid in particular was fantastic as he essayed good cricketing strokes. His trademark cover-drive was on show twice as he picked the gaps to perfection. Even Rahane played a few good strokes to the delight of the purists.

The partnership was going steady and they brought up Rajasthan’s 50 in the eight over. However, once Rahane was dismissed, Pune stuttered and couldn’t find momentum. Dravid completed his fifty off 43 deliveries, but didn’t last long after that.

Yuvraj and Rahul Sharma had done an exceptional job to peg back Rajasthan. Yuvraj finished his spell with two for 27 and Sharma ended up with two for 16.  Pune had also pulled off a few good catches. Angelo Mathews snapped Rahane in the covers with a good reflex catch. However, Ross Taylor’s catch of Dravid is the one that stood out. Dravid had bludgeoned the ball through the covers and Taylor snapped at the ball with one hand to pull off a blinder.

Some late hitting by Brad Hodge and Faulkner saw Rajasthan finish on 145.

Given the good start, Rajasthan would have expected to score more. However, Pune’s batsmen haven’t quite found their touch. Was it going to be their day?

Seeing the Pune spinners do well, Dravid introduced young Harmeet in the very first over. Finch swept him for a boundary, but it was a decent effort otherwise. Finch then set the tone with a six off S Sreesanth in the second over.

Robin Uthappa and Finch then took on Harmeet and sent him to all parts of the ground in the third over as the youngster conceded two fours and a six. Even Sreesanth wasn’t spared as Uthappa mercilessly carted him for two sixes and a four in the fourth over. Pune raced to their 50 in only 22 balls.

The opening carnage came to an end as Uthappa was brilliantly caught by Dravid at mid-wicket off Faulkner. It was almost as if the veteran was avenging his dismissal as he stuck one hand out and plucked the ball.  

The damage had been done and it was an easy task for Pune as the required rate had gone under six an over. Finch brought up his fifty in style with a six over square leg off Kevon Cooper. It took him only 36 balls to achieve the milestone.

Taylor had come in at No 3 and was taking his time. He got into his stride with a typical hit over mid-wicket that went all the way. However, he succumbed to the temptation of clearing the ropes again as he holed out to mid-wicket off the bowling of Harmeet.

Yuvraj then came in and saw it through for Pune. Finch was bowled by Faulkner with Pune needing only 15. By then, the result was a foregone conclusion.

There was obvious delight in the Pune camp and they would now be looking forward to the coming games.

Brief Scores: Rajasthan Royals 145 for 5 in 20 overs (Rahul Dravid 54, Ajinkya Rahane 30; Rahul Sharma 2 for 16, Yuvraj Singh 2 for 27) lost to Pune Warriors India 148 for 3 in 18.4 overs (Aaron Finch 64, Robin Uthappa 32; James Faulkner 2 for 17, Harmeet Singh 1 for 34) by 7 wickets.

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