By BV Swagath
Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane scored breezy fifties as hosts Rajasthan Royals overcame Pune Warriors in a high-scoring contest in the Pink City tonight. The homeside chased down the target of 179 with five wickets in hand and a ball to spare. With this victory, the Rajasthan Royals are tied with the RCB, Mumbai Indians and the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the second position with all the teams winning 7 out of 11 matches so far. The Pune Warriors remain at the bottom with 10 defeats in 12 games.
Batting first, Pune Warriors once again got off to a terrific start from its settled opening pair of Aaron Finch and Robin Uthappa with the duo putting on 97 in 10.5 overs. Finch cracked 45 from 32 balls with 7 fours before he dragged a slog onto his stumps. Yuvraj Singh failed again getting dismissed for a 11-ball 15. Robin Uthappa went onto score 54 from 41 balls with 8 fours and a six before he was run out with the Pune Warriors at 129 for 3 in the 16th over.
Mitchell Marsh with a superb cameo of 35* from 21 balls with 2 fours and 3 sixes helped PWI to end up with a total of 178 for 4. The Rajasthan Royals in reply got off to a terrific start from its new opening combination of Skipper Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane. Dravid was determined to show his class and in the process scored 58 from just 40 balls striking 9 fours and a six. The former Indian great left the park with his team already scoring 98 in 11.5 overs.
There was a huge blow for the homeside when they lost Shane Watson, bowled by Parnell in the 15th over. Rahane departed in the 16th over after a 48-ball 67 which had 6 fours and 2 sixes. All hopes were on Brad Hodge to finish off the run chase but the Aussie got out heaving at an awkward full toss from Parnell to leave his team at 150 for 4 in 17.1 overs. Despite losing a couple of key wickets, Rajasthan Royals held their nerve to clinch the run chase in style.
Stuart Binny turned out to be the new hero for the Royals as he came up with a crucial cameo of 32 from 13 balls with 2 fours and 2 sixes.
Toss and Teams: Pune Warriors have won the toss and elected to bat first against Rajasthan Royals at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. The Pune Warriors who are having a poor tournament have gone onto make five changes to their XI!
Rajasthan Royals: Shane Watson, Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson (WK), Rahul Dravid (C), Brad Hodge, Sachin Baby, Stuart Binny, Kevon Cooper, James Faulkner, Ajit Chandila, Siddharth Trivedi
Pune Warriors: Aaron Finch (C), Robin Uthappa, Udit Birla, Yuvraj Singh, Mitchell Marsh, Angelo Mathews, Mahesh Rawat (WK), Wayne Parnell, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Krishnakant Upadhyay, Rahul Sharma