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Rajasthan edge past Hyderabad in a thriller

By Rediff cricket
Last updated on: May 02, 2009 20:32 IST
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Rajasthan Royals edged past Deccan Chargers by three wickets with two balls to spare in a closely-contested Indian Premier League match at St George's Park, in Port Elizabeth, on Saturday.

This was Hyderabad's second straight defeat -- the first coming against Delhi Daredevils -- after wins in their first four matches.

Hyderabad still leads the points table with eight from six games; Delhi, playing their sixth match later in the day, have a chance to grab sole lead.

Rajasthan secured their third win in seven matches and moved out of the bottom two, up to fourth.

Deccan Chargers were restricted to a moderate 141 for five thanks to the continuation of good work by the Rajasthan bowlers.

Newcomer Shane Harwood (two for 25) was the most successful bowler for Rajasthan while T Suman, 41 not out, top-scored for Hyderabad.

Considering captain Shane Warne had hoped to restrict the Hyderabad team to 170-odd after losing the toss, Rajasthan's bowling effort was impressive to say the least.

Hyderabad innings:

Adam Gilchrist's decision after he won the toss was something pre-meditated: he wanted to bat. And the captain led from the front, starting with a drive to the extra cover boundary off Yusuf Pathan.

The Australian was at his destructive best in the next over, smashing Munaf Patel first to the midwicket fence and two balls later clearing the long leg fence with minimum fuss.

Gilchrist added two more boundaries to his tally in Yusuf's second over, one hit smartly between mid-off and extra cover and the second, an outside edge that found its way to the third man fence.

And when Herschelle Gibbs (8/10) swept Ravindra Jadeja past the short fine leg fielder to get his first boundary, it seemed a great start for Hyderabad, at 34 for no loss after four overs.

However, the best thing about the Twenty20 format is its unpredictability and that is a factor that ensures fortunes keep changing during the course of the match.

Hyderabad got afflicted with the syndrome as well, losing two wickets in the span of seven balls and handing over the advantage to Rajasthan for the first time.

Gibbs was out leg before to Yusuf, a decision that left the South African infuriated.

And his replacement, Azhar Bilakhia (1/5), top-edged a Harwood delivery to Siddharth Trivedi at mid-on.

Bilakhia's wicket ensured Harwood, who came into the team in place of the out-of-form Dimitri Mascarenhas, had struck with his first ball.

The two quick wickets put the pressure back on Hyderabad. Realizing that, Gilchrist tried to break free, first with a boundary to square leg of Harwood and then a massive six off former teammate Warne over the long-on fence.

But in his bid to accelerate the Hyderabad captain perished, hitting straight Yusuf at short midwicket off Jadeja.

Gilchrist made 39 off just 35 balls (5x4, 2x6) but, more importantly, got out at a crucial juncture.

The dismissal came a ball before the strategic time out and Rajasthan went into the break having wrested the advantage back, with Hyderabad in trouble at 58 for three.

Hyderabad, who were sitting pretty at 34 without loss after four overs, had managed to add just 24 more in the other six overs, losing three wickets in the process.

To their credit, they regrouped during the interval.

T Suman helped them break the shackles first with a magnificent boundary over extra cover followed by a maximum over the long-on fence, Rajasthan skipper Warne being at the receiving end on both occasions.

Rohit Sharma followed suit, smashing Munaf over the midwicket fence and following it up with a boundary to fine leg.

And when Sharma pulled Abhishek Raut to the midwicket boundary, it brought about the 50-run partnership for the fourth wicket (of 34 balls), and a much-needed relief for their team.

The Mumbai player then pulled Trivedi over the midwicket boundary for yet another six before the latter had his revenge in the next ball, a leading edge off Sharma's blade went high but Warne judged it to perfection at mid-off.

Sharma made 38 of 32 balls (2x4, 2x6) and his 59-run fourth wicket partnership with Suman -- the highest for the wicket at St George's Park -- helped Hyderabad recover from their slump.

Suman, who survived two chances -- Mahesh Rawat missing an easy stumping opportunity of Jadeja and Raut dropping a regulation catch at long off -- rode his luck to good effect to remain unbeaten on 41 of 30 balls (2x4, 1x6).

Rajasthan innings:

A certain standard can be expected from the Rajasthan batting taking into account their efforts so far in the tournament.

And that standard is not something that they would be proud of.

The Rajasthan batting has become as predictable as the plot of a Bollywood potboiler and their fate as predictable as the latter's at the box office.

The fact that their top order has failed to get going in this tournament and build on the advantage that their bowlers have earned for them, has been the bane of Rajasthan so far.

It is also the prime reason behind their inconsistent performance in the second edition.

And what is adding to their woes is the fact that the defending champions have so far failed to find a solution to their batting problems, despite having tried out all possible permutations and combinations with the available resources.

True to form, Rajasthan began their innings trying to give another meaning to the word 'self-destruction.'

They lost both their openers in the first over -- the out-of-form Graeme Smith (0) cut Fidel Edwards's second ball straight to Shoaib Ahmed at third man and in the next ball, the equally disappointing Swapnil Asnodkar (0) got himself run-ut.

Naman Ojha also failed to open his account and fell in the second over, hitting a RP Singh delivery straight to Gibbs at short point.

Rajasthan were tottering at three for three after two overs.

Lee Carseldine, who came into the squad in place of Rob Quiney -- who had only 45 runs in four matches to his credit, tried to break the shackles when Dwayne Smith was handed the ball in the fifth over.

The Caribbean player's first ball was driven towards the mid-off boundary, his fourth cut towards the backward point fence and his penultimate ball of the over got an inside edge off Carseldine's bat and found its way to the fine leg fence.

The veteran Australian also had two boundaries off RP Singh's next over, the first hit of the back-foot between mid-off and cover and the second, glanced away to fine leg fence.

Jadeja's (12/17) sole moment glory came when he smashed the in-form Pragyan Ojha over the long-on boundary for the maximum.

And when Carseldine cut Sharma to third man boundary it brought about the 50-run partnership for the fourth wicket -- a much-needed relief for Warne in general, and for Rajasthan, in particular.

However, the relief was ephemeral.

Gilchrist handed the ball to Venugopal Rao and the latter expressed his gratitude with a double strike.

Rao's first ball accounted for Jadeja, caught by Smith at long-on off what was an irresponsible shot. And his fifth got rid of the dangerous-looking Carseldine, given out leg before.

The Australian southpaw made 39 of just 32 balls (6x4) and seemed at ease on his IPL debut.

Rajasthan went into the strategic time out at 60 for five having handed the advantage back to Hyderabad after looking threatening for a brief period.

The second over after resumption brought Rajasthan back into the game.

Venugopal Rao's first ball was smashed over the midwicket fence for the maximum. The second was driven straight back but the bowler failed to hold on to the easy chance on offer.

Warne expressed his gratitude by clearing the midwicket fence again off the third ball. And when Raut found the fine leg fence, Rao's woes were compounded -- his second over had cost his team 17.

The Rajasthan captain (21/17) perished while trying to accelerate, skying an Ojha delivery and his opposite number Gilchrist making no mistake.

Rajasthan 98 for six after 15 overs, needing 44 to win of the final five.

Yusuf relieved the pressure to a great extent with successive sixes of Shoaib, the first over extra cover and the second over midwicket.

Edwards next over went for 12, with both Yusuf and Raut finding the fence.

But when Yusuf (24/14) skied to Gibbs at point of RP Singh, the match witnessed yet another twist.

However, a misfield by Sharma at square leg in the penultimate over allowed the ball to roll on to the fence and it was all over.

Or was it?

With Rajasthan needing just two off the final over, there was more drama in store.

Harwood failed to take any run of Edwards's first two balls, the bowler missed a run-out opportunity and conceded a bye; and when RP Singh missed a chance to run-out Raut off the fourth ball it was curtains for Hyderabad.

Raut was unbeaten on 36 (23 ball, 4x4), helping his team get past the total.

However, in the final analyis, it was the changes made by Rajasthan; Carseldine and Harwood that had done the trick for them.

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