Another sparkling knock of 89 not out by Mumbai Indians skipper Sachin Tendulkar helped his side recover from a jittery start and post a challenging 174 for 5, batting first against Rajasthan Royals. And, with the batsmen from the latter side hell-bent on committing hara-kiri, the Mumbai bowlers did not have to shed much sweat for a comprehensive win.
As many as three Royals’ batsmen ran themselves out, something which definitely would not have pleased the Sunday night crowd at Jaipur. The innings continued to stumble along as no partnerships were built and, eventually, Rajasthan lost by a disappointing margin of 37 runs.
The story of the match was the innings of one man versus the rest on a difficult pitch for the batsmen. And that man was, guess who, Sachin Tendulkar. After winning the toss and electing to field, Rajasthan were off to the best of starts, all thanks to Shane Watson, who bounced out two Mumbai batsmen.
Both Ambati Rayudu and Saurabh Tiwary were found out as Watson gave them the chin music. Before that though, he got the all important scalp of Sanath Jayasuriya for 1. The politician from Sri Lanka, who was recalled after being made to sit out for a few games, punched one tentatively to end his short stay at the crease.
Mumbai were in all sorts of trouble at 30 for 3, when JP Duminy joined Sachin. The left-hander from South Africa gave ample support to his skipper as they went about rebuilding the innings.
While Sachin went for the big strokes, Duminy ensured that he gave his captain most of the strike. Sachin was in his elements throughout his knock, but his much-awaited tussle with opposite number Shane Warne was the highlight of the game.
Even after all these years, the Mumbai bomber showed scant respect to the legendary spinners. He charged down the track and hit Warne inside out more than once. And when Warne pitched one short, he had the answer ready with his cut.
Although Duminy left Sachin with the score on 93, Sachin continued to blaze away. He slammed Siddharth Trivedi for two mighty sixes in the last over of the innings as Mumbai ended their innings on a high.
There was nothing noteworthy in Rajasthan’s batting effort. Michael Lumb began with two crispy boundaries, but Dhawal Kulkarni had his revenge pretty soon when he had him caught by Duminy.
Naman Ojha did nothing wrong to get dismissed for a duck. He was at the receiving end of an unplayable outswinger from Zaheer Khan, which he somehow managed to nick. What followed next was bizarre, to put it lightly, as three consecutive wickets fell to run-outs.
Shane Watson was the first victim, and the most crucial one at that. Faiz Fazal had run halfway down the pitch, leaving Watson with no option but to respond to his call. Fazal, himself, was the next victim, not knowing where to go. Abhishek Jhunjhunwala, who batted well for his 22 until then, was beaten by a strong throw from Tiwary.
By the time Yusuf Pathan came into bat, the score read a miserable 62 for 5. Rajasthan needed well over 100 runs at better than 12 runs per over. On his day, it would have been a cakewalk for Pathan. But, this was Sachin’s day.
And so, he fell without contributing much as the script got murkier for Rajasthan. Aditya Dole and Abhishek Raut struck some lusty blows towards the end. All that did though was reduce the victory margin.
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