Jaipur: In the 11 previous matches in which they made 170 or more batting first, Rajasthan Royals had never lost in the IPL. True to history, that trend was maintained Wednesday at their home fortress of the Sawai Mansingh Stadium where they piled up 179 for 3 and defended that to beat Mumbai Indians by a whopping 87 runs. It was Mumbai's heaviest defeat ever in terms of runs.
Having been given the best start of IPL 6 - 58 for 0 - at the end of the Powerplay, Rajasthan used the platform to put up their highest score of the season, aided by an unbeaten 68 from Ajinkya Rahane and vital innings from Dishant Yagnik and Brad Hodge. Ajit Chandila then removed Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting inside three overs, putting into motion a steady procession of wickets that saw Mumbai bowled out for 92 in 18.2 overs. Victory took Rajasthan Royals to top of the IPL 6 table.
For the second game running, Shane Watson delivered a brisk start for Rajasthan before falling in the thirties. The burly allrounder swung Rishi Dhawan for a huge six and bludgeoned three fours off one Lasith Malinga over before edging Kieron Pollard for 31 off 25 balls (62 for 1).
Wicketkeeper-batsman Yagnik adopted pretty much the same approach he had in each of his IPL 6 innings - to swing across the line and slash outside off stump when offered width. The tactic garnered Yagnik fours to third man and point and a gorgeous six off Pollard, then a slogged boundary to fine leg off Harbhajan Singh. Yagnik's fourth boundary was a belter through point off Dhawan that raised the 100 for Rajasthan, to plenty of cheer from the Jaipur crowd.
Yagnik dominated a second-wicket partnership of 53 with Rahane, out-scoring the opener 34 to 13. Chancing his luck once too often, Yagnik top-edged a reverse sweep against Harbhajan to short fine leg. Mumbai were perked up again moments later when a throw from Mitchell Johnson ran out Stuart Binny for 4.
At this stage Rahane was on 38. Setting himself up for a late surge, Rahane reached his first half-century of the season in 46 balls and promptly unfurled a reverse paddle for four off Pragyan Ojha. After managing just 28 in the overs 17 to 19, Rajasthan got the big one they wanted. Johnson's errors in length resulted in 19 runs off the last six balls: Hodge began with a towering six over deep square leg followed by three fours to Rahane. The stand between Hodge (27 off 15 balls) and Rahane had produced 53 in 29 balls.
Having put faith in pace for most of his team's matches in IPL 6, Rajasthan captain Rahul Dravid opened the bowling with spin from both ends. Mumbai's chase was dented in the first over when Tendulkar (1) top-edged a sweep off Chandila to short fine leg, and in the third Chandila gleefully accepted a return catch from Ponting (4). The third blow came first ball after the Powerplay as Rohit Sharma look to break the shackles of a slow start, top-edging Siddharth Trivedi in a wicket-maiden seventh over.
By now the required rate had almost touched 12. Pollard's short say ended on 1 when he played all around a deliver from Binny that straightened, leaving Mumbai reeling at 31 for 4. It could have been 31 for 5 had a thick edge from Ambati Rayudu off the next delivery not evaded a diving Yagnik.
As the balls-to-runs ratio lessened, Mumbai's need to find the boundary increased but there just wasn't enough gas in the tank. Karthik's first real attempt to go airborne resulted in a catch to the deep off James Faulkner, who in the following over accepted a simple catch from Dhawan off Binny. A mix-up with Rayudu had Harbhajan at the same end as his partner, providing a comical touch to what was a pathetic run-chase. Faulker continued to prove a value purchase for Rajasthan with 3 for 16.