For someone who had played just two first class games for his home state Haryana,Ajit Chandila did not take too long to announce himself on the big stage. With his fifth,sixth and seventh deliveries of the match,the Rajasthan Royals off-spinner sent back Jesse Ryder,Sourav Ganguly and Robin Uthappa to become the first bowler of the edition to claim a hat-trick.
If Ajinkya Rahane and Shane Watson gave Rajasthan a handy total (170/4) with fifties each batting first,Chandilas triple strike ensured Pune Warriors chase never got started. The visitors scorecard read 11 for three in 2.1 overs at the fall of Uthappas wicket,and they eventually fell short by 45 runs in what was their eighth successive loss.
Chandila had played just one game earlier in the edition against Royal Challengers Bangalore and had finished wicketless (0/29). The off-spinner had been warming the bench since then. But on a slow Sawai Man Singh track on Sunday,he got another chance,in place of medium-pacer Pankaj Singh.
The off-spinner has a history of operating with the new ball and with some success in club cricket. And with left-handers Ryder and Ganguly walking out to open,it was no surprise that Rahul Dravid gave Chandila the new ball,just as he did in the game against Bangalore.
Conceding only three singles from his first four balls,Chandila built pressure on Jesse Ryder,who had opened the batting with Pune looking at a required rate of 8.5 runs per over. Ryder lost his cool and stepped out,but couldnt reach the pitch of the ball,lobbing it high into the sky,and found Watsons safe hands at mid on.
Beaten all ends up
The next man to make his way to the pavilion was skipper Ganguly,who had crossed ends. Chandila bowled this ball much slower,onto Gangulys pads. As the batsman attempted to nudge it towards square leg,the ball ricocheted off his pads and trickled behind the stumps. Having left the crease in his follow-through,Ganguly couldnt get back in time as Royals wicketkeeper and Gangulys Bengal teammate Sreevats Goswami quickly pounced on the ball and clipped off the bails.
With Chandila on a hat-trick at the start of his second over,Dravid put a slip in place. Robin Uthappa had clubbed Shane Watson back over his head for four in the previous over. Now,facing a slow,loopy delivery from Chandila,Uthappa stepped out but failed to read either the length or the direction of the ball,which went with the angle instead of turning. Once again,Goswami made no mistake behind the stumps.
Chandila then added one more wicket to his tally,bowling a slow,off break that kicked from a length,forcing Anustup Majumdar to lob a simple return catch. Chandila finished with figures of 4/13 in his quota of four overs. Watson and Botha also claimed two wickets apiece,giving away 19 and 25 runs.
A Rahane-Watson show
Earlier,Rahane made 61 off 47 deliveries while Watson produced his trademark powerful hits to scored 58 in just 31 balls. His knock consisted of four massive sixes and six boundaries. After Royals lost Dravid,who had scored 21,Watson and Rahane constructed a partnership of 94 for the second wicket. Rahane comfortably milked seven boundaries,three of them improvised over the covers. Watson too punished bad deliveries and cashed in against Murali Kartik,Rahul Sharma and Jesse Ryder during the 10th,11th and 13th overs,which cost Pune 16,12 and 15 respectively. Meanwhile,Rahane crossed the 500-run mark for the season in the process of scoring his third half-century.