By BV Swagath
Rajasthan Royals kept their winning streak going at their home ground – Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur by overcoming the challenge posed by the Highveld Lions from South Africa. An all-round performance in all the three departments helped Rajasthan Royals overcome the Lions by 30 runs on a pitch that was double paced.
After doing well to reach 183 for 5 thanks to a collective effort from most of its batsmen, Rajasthan Royals kept the Lions down to 153 for 9. 41-year-old Leg Spinner Pravin Thambe, who is yet to play any first class cricket, captured four wickets for the Rajasthan Royals. But even before he was given the ball, the Rajsathan Royals had more than secured the game by reducing the Lions to 36 for 3 in 5 overs.
Shane Watson produced the first breakthrough for the Royals removing a dangerous looking Quinton de Kock (18 from 10 balls) in the 4th over. Swing bowler Vikramjeet Malik took two wickets in two balls after that to derail the run chase of Lions. Fast bowler Hardus Vijoen came in at no.4 to score 24 from 21 balls and Skipper Alviro Petersen made 40 from 28 balls to put up some fight for the Lions. Both the batsmen were dismissed by leggie Pravin Tambe.
The Lions after losing wickets at regular intervals couldn’t get any sort of momentum to end up well behind the target. Pravin Tambe justified his place in the team with figures of 3-0-15-4 for which he got the Man of the Match. Opening bowlers Vikramjeet Malik and James Faulkner chipped in with a couple of wickets each.
Asked to bat first, Rajasthan Royals got its start from Skipper Rahul Dravid, who scored 31 from 30 balls with 5 fours. Dravid took the score to 67 in 9.3 overs before being the third batsman to be dismissed. Before him Ajinkya Rahane miscued a lofted shot off Sohail Tanvir and young Sanju Samson got out edging a cut off Tsolekille.
Shane Watson and Stuart Binny for a second match in a row put up a crucial partnership. Watson failed to convert his start and got out for 33 from 24 balls, holing out a big shot to long off. Binny was impressive again with his inside out shots to score a precious cameo of 38 from 20 balls.
The real finish for the hosts came from Aussie veteran Brad Hodge, whose 46 not out from 23 balls helped Rajasthan Royals to a par total of 183. While Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Dwayne Pretorious were the key performers for the Lions taking two wickets and bowling economically, the bowler who stole the limelight was Hardus Viljoen. Although he went for 41 in 4 wicketless overs, Viljoen showed his promise by clocking speeds of around 148 kmph.
Toss and Teams: Alviro Petersen has won the toss and invited hosts Rajasthan Royals to bat first at Jaipur. Looking at the first game here, this match could also be a high-scoring contest. Remember, Rajasthan Royals are coming into this game after defeating Mumbai Indians while Lions had their first game at Ahmedabad washed out.
Rajasthan Royals: Rahul Dravid (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson (WK), Shane Watson, Stuart Binny, Brad Hodge, Ashok Menaria, James Faulkner, Kevon Cooper, Vikramjeet Malik, Pravin Tambe
Lions: Quinton de Kock (WK), Rassie van der Dussen, Alviro Petersen (C), Thami Tsolekile, Temba Bavuma, Jean Symes, Dwaine Pretorius, Sohail Tanvir, Hardus Viljoen, Aaron Phangiso, Lonwabo Tsotsobe