Not even eight days rest, their best efforts with the bat and Amit Mishra’s three wickets were enough to earn Deccan Chargers a first win in IPL 2012. After Kumar Sangakkara and Shikhar Dawan put on the highest first-wicket partnership of the season, and JP Duminy and Daniel Christian blasted 77 off the last five overs, Chargers piled on a hefty score for Rajasthan Royals to chase, but they were unable to defend it on a flat pitch with small boundaries.
Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane did the groundwork and Brad Hodge finished off fiercely. Almost everything Chargers did, Royals did better. Although Dravid and Rahane shared a stand of only 62, compared to Sangakkara and Dhawan’s 94 , the Royals pair scored at a faster rate. They went at 10.62 runs to the over compared to Sangakkara and Dhawan’s 8.81. Chargers had amassed 119 for 2 after 15 overs, Royals had the same score after 13. Duminy’s 58 came at a strike rate of 223.07, Brad Hodge’s 48 came at a strike rate of 228.57, and that was perhaps the difference between the two sides.
With a tall task ahead of them, Royals approached it aggressively. Rahul Dravid tore into an out-of-sorts Dale Steyn in the second over, using the pace to club him for three fours. With the in-form Rahane on the other end, Daniel Christian and birthday-boy Anand Rajan also took a pasting and Royals raced to the fastest fifty in this season’s tournament, off 4.5 overs.
Dravid seemed set for a much longer stay at the crease but was foxed by a Christian slower ball that was aimed at his legs. He did not get inside the line and the ball cannoned into the pads and onto the stumps. The wicket brought a short-lived calm to the crease as Rahane and Ashok Menaria consolidated.
Unlike Chargers, who suffered a lapse in the mid-section of their innings and scored 23 runs between overs 13 and 16, Royals kept their slump to just two overs. The 8th and 9h overs yielded only eight runs in total but Rahane soon had the wheels turning again with a six over long-off after charging down the track to Mishra.
Menaria was not expected to bat at No. 3, given the match situation which needed quick runs, but Royals stuck to their original line-up and he did not let them down. He freed his arms and found the boundary and seemed a worthy partner to Rahane until he pulled straight to short midwicket. Rahane holed out two overs later to cause jitters in the Royals camp. Those nerves would have grown when Shah was dropped by Steyn at long-on when he was on 10 and then caught two balls later at deep midwicket.
Hodge did not waste time taking over and ensured the advantage was back with Royals when he clubbed Steyn for four consecutive fours. Hodge cut the short ball, turned the full toss to square leg, lofted another short one over third man and carved a half-volley through the covers to ensure Steyn had the most expensive return of the Chargers’ bowlers.
With the anxiety shifting to Chargers, they dropped another catch, putting Johan Botha down and found themselves with only 11 to defend off the last over. Dishant Yagnik, little-known on the international stage, was the unlikely hero. Steyn offered him a touch of width and he found the gap on the off side and followed it up by slapping the ball through the covers to hand Royals victory.
This is the second match of in the tournament that Chargers have lost from a seemingly winnable position. Last Monday, they let Mumbai Indians canter to a five-wicket win after having them under their thumb at 95 for 4, chasing 139, in the 17th over. Chargers’ three losses keeps them at the bottom of the points table.
Besides his fondness for the cricketer, Ajinkya Rahane has a striking resemblance to Dravid. We know how Dravid is known for his calm demeanour and patience. Rahane too is known in the team for being shy and simple, much like Dravid.
And this comparison is nothing new for him, because when we asked about his resemblance to Dravid, he replied, “Many people have asked me this question and yes, I am quiet and reserved by nature, but I look up to Dravid and follow in his footsteps.”
Rahane got the orange cap after his first game against Team Punjab in the ongoing IPL, as he scored a match-winning knock of 98 runs, and till now, he has the orange cap to himself.
Ask him how it feels to be opening the innings with his batting idol and he says, “I have always followed Rahul bhai and it is a great experience to get a chance to bat with him.”
Rahane, a Mumbai lad, was with Team Mumbai during the first three IPL seasons, but didn’t get to play much. But now, his stint with Team Rajasthan is proving to be lucky.
About Shane Warne as captain, Rahane says, “Warne used to take some instinctive decisions and surprise us by doing something which we had never expected. But Rahul bhai is keeping everything as simple as he can. Both are good captains and excellent players.”