Spineless Rajasthan blown apart for 81

Kolkata players celebrate a wicket.

By Suneer Chowdhary

Kolkata: Apr 17, 2011

After having lost to the Kolkata Knight Riders in the home game, Rajasthan would have harboured thoughts of redemption at the Eden Gardens. They lost the toss alright, but would have still hoped to get to at least 140 on a spin-friendly pitch to challenge the Kolkata Knight Riders.

However, another set of strange captaincy calls from Shane Warne and a combination of brilliant captaincy, perfect bowling and stifling fielding ensured that the Royals were bowled out for 81 way before their 20 overs were up.

Kolkata went into the game without any change to the winning combination that had seen them overcome the Rajasthan Royals in the previous match. The Royals had no options but to get in three from those who had been benched in the previous game; Ajinkya Rahane, Shaun Tait and Faiz Fazal in place of Nayan Doshi and the injured Rahul Dravid and Johan Botha.

As had been expected, Shane Watson was sent to open the innings, a game late probably. Amit Paunikar walked out with him and after playing out Brett Lee in the first over, both the batsmen extracted a boundary each off the second over of the game. Shakib Al Hasan was the bowler who had taken the brunt of the blows.

Laxmipathy Balaji replaced Shakib in the fourth over of the game. Watson carted him over mid-wicket for a four but the bowler came back strongly on the next delivery to have him bowled off a peach of a ball. It pitched on the middle and deviated towards the off instead of coming into the batsman with the arm. The bail was clipped and the dangerous Watson was back for 11.

With the ball seeming to turn and hold up a tad, Iqbal Abdulla came on from the other end and had a couple of successes in as many overs. Paunikar, in a bid to dominate, gave the left-arm spinner the charge, only to be stranded and stumped before Fazal was run out by Abdulla at the non-striker s end.

To rub salt into the wounds, there was another run-out that followed. Abhishek Raut ran off immediately after he had hit the ball towards the short mid-wicket but with Ashok Menaria not responsive to the call, the batsman was caught way short. Rajasthan 43 for four.

Warne is one of those captains who shuffles things around a lot. Sometimes, like it would be their wont, they backfire and he is castigated. In the last game, it was the holding back of Watson till the number four position. This time, it was Ross Taylor being sent only at the number six position.

Taylor did not last too long. He played nine ball for his seven, before being deceived by spin from Yusuf Pathan. Pathan is not known to get much turn but he extracted some, had Taylor dancing down the track and was stumped by a swift Manvinder Bisla.

The strategic time-out was taken by Warne as soon as it was due but if anything, it helped the hosts. Rahane was bowled off the first ball after the break and Menaria upper cut a bouncer to the third-man fielder both off the bowling of Balaji.

Then, Shakib flummoxed Amit Singh and Shaun Tait, bowling both off straighter ones to reduce Rajasthan to 80 for nine with five overs pending. Lee wasted no time in bursting through the Siddharth Trivedi defences in the next over to finish Rajasthan off on 81.

Brief Scores: RR 81 all out in 15.1 overs (Ashok Menaria 21; Lakshmipathy Balaji 3 for 15, Shakib Al Hasan 2 for 21, Yusuf Pathan 1 for 11, Iqbal Abdulla 1 for 18) vs KKR.

(Suneer is a Mumbai-based cricket writer and can be contacted at suneerchowdhary@gmail.com and Tweets here @suneerchowdhary)

Pictures AFP