Former Champions Rajasthan Royals kept their hopes alive to remain as rightful claimants when they crushed Pune Warriors by six wickets in the IPL-4 edition and move to top the points table, thanks to Ross Taylor, who smashed a fine 47 which include two sixes and four boundaries in 35-ball essay on Sunday.
Of course, not without a ‘life’ when he was dropped while on 31 and chase the set target of their rivals of 144 along with Ajinkya Rahane (15 not out) for the un-separated fifth wicket. At one stage, it looked like Pune would snap their five-match losing streak with the asking rate rising near 11 by the 16th over but Taylor and Rahane kept their nerves as Rajasthan reached 144 for four in 19.3 overs in the match that went down the wire.
For Pune, who dropped three catches in the match, leg-spinner Rahul Sharma took three for 13 while Alfonso Thomas got one wicket. Left-arm spinner Murali Kartik went wicket-less for 41 runs from his four overs. Chasing 144 for a win, the RR openers Shane Watson (12) and Rahul Dravid (18) did not contribute much and that gave Pune a chance
before Taylor and Rahane took the game away.
But the blunder did not cost Rajasthan Royals dear as Dravid was out in the eighth over with the addition of just four runs to his individual score. The former India captain was caught and bowled by Rahul Sharma in a soft dismissal. Earlier, Pune Warriors failed to capitalise on a strong start as they were restricted to 143 for seven by Rajasthan Royals. Put into bat, Pune were shaping up for a decent total as they were 91 for two at the end of 12th over but the last eight overs yielded just 52 runs while losing five wickets to give their opponents just over seven runs per over to win the match. The
visiting side could cross 140 thanks mainly to the 46-run partnership from 32 balls for the third wicket between Robin Uthappa (35) and Manish Pandey (30). The home side could hit just one six and that came in the last over from the blade of Mithun Manhas (24 not out).
With the victory today, Rajasthan Royals have won 15 of their 19 matches they had played at Sawai Man Singh Stadium in the IPL so far. They are now on top of IPL table with 11 points from nine matches ahead of Kolkata Knight Riders (10 points from eight matches) and Mumbai Indians (10 from seven).