Little breathing space for choke-prone RR

Thirty runs were required off 18 balls when the Chennai Super Kings were yet to show signs of a fightback. They were stifled by the slow nature of the wicket and effective bowling by Rajasthan Royals at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium

Written by Siddhartha Sharma | Jaipur | Published: May 13, 2012 1:07 am

Thirty runs were required off 18 balls when the Chennai Super Kings were yet to show signs of a fightback. They were stifled by the slow nature of the wicket and effective bowling by Rajasthan Royals at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium last week.

This was before Shane Watson,a match-winner,conceded 18 runs in the 18th over of the chase,one more than what fellow medium-pacer Pankaj Singh gave away in over number 17. The batsmen at the wicket were Albie Morkel and Anirudha Srikkanth,handy hitters who had pulled off a coup after Chennai looked down and out chasing 127. The winning runs came off five wides given away by Shaun Tait,an experienced campaigner and now a T20 specialist.

Another instance of Rajasthan fading when they should have shone the brightest was when the relatively inexperienced Ajinkya Rahane,inspite of leading the team to the brink of victory with an unbeaten 84,succumbed to two fine overs of death bowling from Delhi Daredevils’ Umesh Yadav and Morne Morkel and last-minute nerves. They lost that game by a run.

Royals,champions in 2008,would want to avoid such instances of conceding advantage in the crunch and losing crucial points during their last three games — all must wins — in order to improve their chances of making the cut for the play-offs.

The first of these games will be played against the Pune Warriors on Sunday — a relatively easy proposition if their opponents,second from last on the points table,play true to form.

For Rahul Dravid’s Rajasthan,there is no room for error from hereon.

With 12 points in their kitty,Rajasthan will have to improve their tally in order to advance. After Pune,they face the Deccan Chargers,the bottom-placed side before taking on the hardy Mumbai Indians.

Psychologically Pune won’t be in the best shape as the team have lost seven games in a row. Things didn’t improve after Sourav Ganguly was benched (‘rested’ the official version) and Steve Smith took as skipper.

The last time the two sides played each other,this was billed as a battle between two former India skippers — Dravid and Ganguly. The latter has perhaps played one of his last IPL innings and is set to take over as mentor of the team next season. Dravid,though,can hope for a better finish to his IPL season,provided the Royals don’t choke at the death again.

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