On a slow, low pitch at the Sawai Mansingh stadium at Jaipur, Rajasthan’s batsmen had a torrid time, which resulted in them being trumped by the Royal Challengers Bangalore by a comfortable margin of five wickets. What began well for Shane Warne when he won the toss and elected to bat first, only got worse.
In the most inauspicious of starts, Michael Lumb was run out cheaply and the Bangalore bowlers then combined brilliantly to have Rajasthan on the mat right through. It was only a stubborn partnership towards the end between Abhishek Raut and Adam Voges that enabled Rajasthan to touch 130. But, with Kevin Pietersen in the most murderous of moods, the match was a no-contest, despite the loss of a few cheap wickets late in the game.
Returning to Rajasthan’s insipid batting effort, in the season of run-outs, Lumb (9) added one more to his kitty. Not for the first time in the series, there was a total lack of co-ordination between him and Naman Ojha. As a result, Lumb was stranded more than halfway down the pitch and had only one way to go from thereon, back to the dugout.
The only consolation for him could have been that Pietersen’s run-out later in the day was uglier. But, this wasn’t a battle to score brownie points. Following Lumb’s dismissal, Amit Paunikar (0) was smartly trapped by R Vinay Kumar off a short ball in the same over. Ojha too couldn’t make amends for the run-out of Lumb as he chipped one up in the air off Pankaj Singh’s bowling for 7.
At 3 for 21, Bangalore were well on top, but they knew they had thrown it away from a similar position in the previous game. There were no mistakes this time, however. Shane Watson (22), who cracked a couple of boundaries and was looking ominous, was brilliantly caught by Pietersen, diving in front of him off Kallis’ bowling. And, if Royals were hoping for some Yusuf Pathan magic, it wasn’t coming.
Anil Kumble’s decision to bring back Dale Steyn worked immediately as the speedster knocked out the big-hitter with a short of the length delivery, which beat his tentative defence and crashed into the stumps. If Rajasthan managed to reach a decent score after being 72 for 6, it was thanks to some dedicated batting from Raut and Voges. Neither could go for the big strokes but ensured that they at least rotated the strike, before finally delivery a couple of lusty hits at the very end.
The target was too miniscule for Bangalore though, despite the early loss of Kallis, who was castled by Kamran Khan by one that kept really low. What followed was the Pietersen show, an exhibition of ruthless batting, which reiterated why Vijay Mallya was so bent on having him in his franchise. Khan was given a lesson in how not to ball at the start of an innings.
The usually economical Siddharth Trivedi as well as Watson were also taken to task. And, when Shane Warne came on, Pietersen made his intentions clear immediately charging down the pitch, making the legend look hapless.
Pietersen raced to 62 from 28 balls. He was out the only way he could have got out. Adamant on getting the strike, he overpowered a refusal from Virat Kohli for a sharp single, but only had to return to the dugout, fuming. A couple more wickets fell instantly. However, Rajasthan were left to rue not having enough runs on the board.