Rahane ton deals defeat
Ajinkya Rahane struck a superb ton as the Rajasthan Royals won against the Royal Challengers Bangalore by 59 runs at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Sunday night.
RCB began by addressing the middle order and fifth bowling issues from the previous match, bringing in Mohammad Kaif and Sreenath Aravind to replace Cheteshwar Pujara and Rajoo Bhatkal respectively.
Aravind proved to be the turning point of the match in an unexpected way when Ajinkya Rahane hit him for six consecutive fours in the 14th over of the game. The Royals had coasted to 82 with 9 wickets left when the over began, they were 106 at the end of it and another 89 runs were added in the six remaining overs of pure batting carnage.
Zaheer Khan had kept things tight in the beginning, even slipping in a maiden over to Rahane. Sreenath Aravind was targeted though right from the start and Daniel Vettori brought himself and Murali on early to limit the Royals to 61/0 in the first ten overs.
After Dravid’s (25) dismissal, Shah wasted no time playing himself in. The duo picked up the run rate beginning with Aravind’s over, matching each other stroke for stroke with the latter producing the fastest fifty of this edition off just 19 balls.
Shah fell in the penultimate over off Zaheer for 60 off just 26 with 5 fours and sixes each, the damage had already been done by then. Rahane brought up his 100 off 58 balls in the next over, ending up unbeaten on 103 off 60.
Mayank Agarwal began the innings with a six and raced away to 34 in a 42 run stand with Gayle (8) before Pankaj Singh (2/18) dismissed him in the fifth over. Singh ended the over with the wicket of Gayle, an inside edge bowling the Jamaican and ending RCB’s plan A.
Another inside edge saw the beginning of the end of plan B with Siddharth Trivedi (4/23) bowling AB de Villiers (6), Kohli (22) and Saurabh Tiwary (17), tiring them out with his persistent line and low bounce doing the rest of the job.
Brad Hogg chipped in with tidy overs as well, the entire Royals bowling unit reaped the rewards of consistent and disciplined bowling afforded by the big total they had to defend. The pressure piled on and the mistakes came from the batsmen.
Regular wickets saw the RCB chase falter before Muralitharan hoicked one high in the sky off the penultimate ball of the innings. The ball landed in the hands of Ajinkya Rahane, capping off a wonderful evening for him with the 59 run margin of victory as RCB were bowled out for 136.
His supremely paced knock, filled with exhilarating strokeplay saw him hit the first ton of this edition of the IPL, take back the Orange Cap, push his team to the top of the points table and win the man of the match award.
The Royal Challengers on the other hand have been in this situation before and their collective pedigree has seen them fightback and end much better. They will hope to not just repeat that but do one better this time.