Arun Gopalakrishnan in Mumbai
Match Report: M 1 - Rajasthan Royals vs Mumbai Indians
Royals protect fortress with clinical performance
Despite losing skipper Rahul Dravid in the second over, the Royals were unflustered thanks mainly to the serenity that Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Samson brought to the crease. Both players went about their task of scoring runs in a clinical manner; they not only picked the gaps regularly, but also hit crisp shots during their innings.
Young Samson, who impressed with his temperament and choice of shots, rode his luck. He was comprehensively beaten by an inswinger from Mitchell Johnson and was rapped on the pads in front of the middle stump, but umpire Bruce Oxenford ruled in favour of the batsman. Johnson troubled him yet again in the 15th over, but this time the batsman got enough bat on ball to ensure the ball eluded the fielder’s hands. He made 54 from 47 balls – in the process becoming the youngest player to score a half-century in the CLT20 – before miscuing a pull shot, which landed in the hands of the fielder at deep midwicket.
Rahane was also impressive, until he played an ungainly shot that brought about his downfall in the 12th over. He scored 33 from 31 balls and hit three boundaries and one massive six off Pragyan Ojha.
Then Shane Watson (27) and Stuart Binny (27), knocked off the required runs to give their team their first win in the CLT20. Binny finished off the match in style when he hit Coulter-Nile into the stands.
For the Mumbai Indians, Mitchell Johnson was very impressive with his pace, while Nathan Coulter-Nile (1/22) and Rishi Dhawan (1/17) impressed with their discipline.
Earlier in the evening, the Rajasthan Royals struck early through Vikramjeet Malik. The 30-year-old dismissed Dwayne Smith and Dinesh Karthik cheaply before Stuart Binny picked up the big wicket of Sachin Tendulkar. Binny got one to pitch in line with off, lured Tendulkar to play at it, only for the ball to move away just enough and take the outside edge through to the wicketkeeper. The Little Master scored 15 from 17 balls and hit three crisp boundaries through the off-side during his short stint at the crease. Ambati Rayudu was involved in a mix-up with skipper Rohit Sharma and both batsmen ended up at the same end when Rahul Dravid broke the stumps at the non-striker’s end; Mumbai Indians were in a spot of bother at 43/4 in the ninth over.
Sharma and Kieron Pollard put the innings back on track with a 52-run partnership that was constructed in 7.3 overs. Both batsmen took a few deliveries to get their eye in, and once they got used to the pace of the pitch, pulled out some powerful shots and some unorthodox ones. The partnership was broken when Watson found the edge of Sharma’s bat in the 16th over; he made 44.
Pollard was dismissed in the final over when he attempted to hit Vikramjeet Malik over the infield, but only managed to edge one through to the wicketkeeper; he made 42 from 36 balls. Nathan Coulter-Nile struck a boundary and a six in the final over to help his team finish with a flourish. The Mumbai Indians finished their 20 overs at 142/7.
The Rajasthan Royals bowlers kept things tight until the 14th over, at which point Sharma and Pollard stepped on the accelerator. 68 runs were conceded in the final six overs. Dravid was very smart as captain, using his bowlers in sharp bursts, while Ajinkya Rahane and Ashok Menaria in particular were outstanding on the field. Malik returned the most successful bowler with three wickets, while Watson and Binny chipped in with a wicket each.
Trivia: The Mumbai Indians innings had a total of 57 dot balls, 24 of which were in the first six overs.
The Rajasthan Royals have now won their last nine matches at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. Their last six victories at the venue have been in run chases.
Man of the Match: Vikramjeet Malik for his three-wicket haul