A thrilling last-ball finish

Niraj Patel celebrates after steering Rajasthan Royals to victory.-S. SUBRAMANIUM

Niraj Patel and Ravindra Jadeja came up with a resolute performance to give a complacent Mumbai Indians the shock treatment in the end overs, writes G. Viswanath.

Niraj Patel and Ravindra Jadeja, familiar names in Gujarat and Saurashtra, put up a brave show and gutted Mumbai Indians. The two left-handers put together 69 runs for the sixth wicket which enabled Rajasthan Royals post its seventh straight victory on its home ground in a thrilling last-ball finish.

Sensing victory and heaving a sigh of relief on despatching danger man Shane Watson to the dug out, the Mumbai Indians became complacent. Quick to spot their opponents’ relaxed approach, Patel and Jadeja, who came together at 77 for five, calculated the run-rate every over and gave Mumbai the shock treatment in the end overs at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium.

The moment Sanath Jayasuriya fumbled a throw from Dwayne Smith and Patel and Jadeja completed the second run off the last ball of the match, it was celebration time for the home team.

For over six weeks Rajasthan Royals had dominated all comers at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium and Shane Warne did not want anyone to blot it. Things unfolded according to plan for Royals, though Mumbai Indians’ openers, Sachin Tendulkar and Jayasuriya, made a defiant start. The Sri Lankan was subdued and unable to score freely against Yusuf Pathan’s off-breaks. This gave the first hint that the wicket might have been slow. It served Royals’ purpose.

From a situation of promise — 71 for no loss — Mumbai Indians declined to 145 for seven off 20 overs. Even this was achieved only because of Yogesh Takawale’s bold hitting in the last two overs, especially off Shane Watson. Left-handed seamer Sohail Tanvir put Rajasthan on top with four wickets before Takawale took charge.

Mumbai Indians fought back and pegged its rival at 77 for five. Fielding lapses initially allowed the sixth wicket pair to eke out runs and finally when it came to the last over, the task of scoring 11 runs did not appear beyond Patel and Jadeja. Dilhara Fernando was a nervous wreck after Patel took his front foot out of the line and lifted him for a straight six. It was a panic situation for the fielding side which allowed the pressure to get the better of it and thereby threw away two points.

Shane Warne, Rajasthan Royals’ skipper and coach, came for the post-match press conference at half past midnight and straightaway praised Patel and Jadeja. “We have been lucky to have new match-winners. Jadeja’s six over extra cover was outstanding. It requires skill and temperament. Niraj’s straight six was simply brilliant. I don’t want to say what I do as a coach. Coaches are meant for development of cricket and the players.

“You need people to sum up situations and play accordingly in a match and that’s what Niraj and Jadeja did. I am very proud of this team. Well, more headaches for me now. There’s Younis Khan who has not had a hit. Smith, Watson and Tanvir have to be in the XI and if Younis or Kamran (Akmal) have to play, then I have to sit out,” remarked Warne in jest.

THE SCORES

Rajasthan Royals v Mumbai Indians, Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur, May 26, 2008.

Result: Rajasthan Royals won by 5 wickets.

Mumbai Indians 145 for seven in 20 overs (S. Jayasuriya 38, S. Tendulkar 30, A. Nayar 25, Sohail Tanvir four for 14, S. K. Trivedi two for 31) lost to Rajasthan Royals 146 for 5 in 20 overs (R. Jadeja 23 not out, N. Patel 40 not out, D. Fernando two for 27).