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Rajasthan Royals further solidified their position on the Pepsi IPL 2014 points table by registering a 62-run win against Delhi Daredevils in Ahmedabad. A Shane Watson-less RR team that was led by Steve Smith set their opponents a mammoth 202-run target, which proved too steep for DD to scale as they ended up at 139 for nine after 20 overs.
Earlier, Kevin Pietersen won the toss and chose to field first. Ajinkya Rahane and Karun Nair, who opened the innings for RR, gave their side a good start. They scored 12 and 16 runs off Rahul Shukla and Siddharth Kaul respectively to take the score to 43 after five overs. However, Shahbaz Nadeem trapped Nair (19) leg-before in the sixth over. However, thanks to a Kevon Cooper six off the last ball of the powerplay, RR were at 52 for one at that point.
Cooper (32) then took charge of proceedings with his unorthodox batting style. Thanks to his 16-ball knock, the RR score was propelled to 93 for two by the time JP Duminy claimed his wicket in the 11th over. However, Sanju Samson came in to bat next and took the attack to the DD bowlers as Rahane played a vital anchor role – the duo continued to plunder runs off Kaul and Shukla. Rahane (64) then brought up his half-century in the 16th over with a boundary, which also helped the Royals breach the 150-run mark. However, the diminutive opener got bowled off Nadeem in the next over.
At 167 for three, Stuart Binny (0) took strike opposite Samson. But Tahir had him stumped before he could get off the mark. The DD leggie then dismissed Samson (40) to finish off the 18th over. But Ben Cutting and James Faulkner then stepped on the pedal by smashing a couple big hits to score 17 runs off the 19th over. And while Cutting (8) was run-out off the last ball of the innings, Faulkner (23*) had already struck two maximums in the 20th over to take RR’s score to 201 for six.
In response, the Daredevils lost Mayank Agarwal (17) in the third over with just 19 runs on the board; Faulkner claimed his scalp. Dinesh Karthik (3) was the next to depart; Dhawal Kulkarni got rid of him, leaving DD on 30 for two. And while the hard-hitting Duminy (8) walked in next, even he departed soon; Pravin Tambe got the better of him in the seventh over. Pietersen (13), who was holding up one end, was then cleaned up by Rajat Bhatia. With the run-chase going off track, RR further strengthened their hold on the match as Bhatia dismissed Ross Taylor (4) before he could change his team’s fortunes.
Meanwhile, Manoj Tiwari was the lone batsman who kept the scoreboard ticking. But he did not get much support from Kedar Jadhav (4) either; the middle-order batsman was run-out with the Daredevils further slipping towards another loss. Cutting then saw the back of Nadeem (1) in the 14th over. And then, Binny bowled Tahir (4) out to take RR a step closer to an emphatic win.
With the scorecard reading 91 for eight in 14.4 overs, Rahul Shukla joined Tiwary. But after the duo had added 29 runs – the biggest partnership of the DD innings – Cooper sent Shukla (13) back to the dugout. And while Tiwari (66*) notched up a half-century, his team could only manage 139 for nine in their 20-over quota, handing RR a big win heading into the business end of the tournament. Man of the Match: Ajinkya Rahane for his half-century
Riding on a timely half-century by opener Robin Uthappa (80), Kolkata Knight Riders registered a big six-wicket win over the Mumbai Indians with eight balls to spare. Chasing a 142-run target, the hosts made sure they did not make heavy weather of the run-chase by building handy partnerships, and eventually, earning their team two valuable points as the race to the Playoffs picks up pace.
Earlier, KKR won the toss and asked the visitors to bat first. MI then lost CM Gautam (8) in the third over off Morne Morkel. And while Lendl Simmons and Ambati Rayudu added 23 runs for the second wicket, Shakib Al Hasan drove a wedge in the blossoming partnership before it could turn dangerous. The left-arm spinner bowled Simmons (12) out in the sixth over. As a result, MI ended up at 37 for two after the powerplay.
But Rayudu then stabilised the innings with his skipper, Rohit Sharma. The two batters added 35 runs at less than a run-a-ball. At the halfway stage, the pair had taken MI to 62 for two as the KKR bowlers were bowling in the right areas and ensuring there was no width on offer.
Rayudu (33) then perished in the 12th over off the bowling of Piyush Chawla, who he was trying to slam out of the park. Rohit Sharma was then joined by Corey Anderson in the middle. The pair then took the MI score past the 100-run mark in the 16th over. However, after plundering 16 off the first five balls of that over – bowled by Morkel – MI lost Anderson (18) off the last delivery. Rohit Sharma (51) then added another 23 runs with Kieron Pollard. However, the MI skipper was cleaned up by Sunil Narine in the final over shortly after he had brought up his half-century. Thanks to some tight bowling by KKR, the visitors could only manage 141 for five in 20 overs.
While Morkel picked up two wickets for the home team, Sunil Narine and Shakib Al Hasan – who claimed a scalp each – boasted a sub-six economy-rate.
In response, Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir gave KKR a good start. The experienced pair added 50 for the first wicket, as they kept chipping away at the modest target. However, Gambhir (14) was cleaned up by Harbhajan Singh in the eighth over, after which Manish Pandey came in to bat. Even the second-wicket pair stitched together a valuable stand – worth 46 runs, during which Uthappa brought up his half-century – before Harbhajan Singh struck again; he bowled Pandey (14) out, leaving KKR on 96 for two in 14.1 overs.
Yusuf Pathan then ensured KKR’s run-chase did not go off track. With Shakib Al Hasan for company, the middle-order batsman brought his team within striking range of the target. And while Lasith Malinga bagged Shakib’s (9) wicket in the 19th over, by then the hosts were just four runs shy of victory. Yusuf (20*) finally took the Knight Riders over the line with a four off Malinga. As a result, KKR got home with six wickets in hand and eight balls to spare.
Man of the Match: Robin Uthappa for his match-winning knock