Shaun Marsh delights

Shaun Marsh... a scintillating century.-AKHILESH KUMAR

Up against a mammoth target, Rajasthan Royals showed no sense of urgency. The team appeared far from desperate to win, writes Rakesh Rao.

The two leading teams, Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab, came face to face in the last league match of the Indian Premier League and promised a cracker of a contest. However, the capacity crowd at the PCA Stadium was disappointed when Rajasthan Royals fielded its second string that eventually proved no match to the host.

Rajasthan, which scraped past Mumbai Indians in its previous match to help Delhi Daredevils qualify for the semi-finals, took the field without skipper Shane Warne, in-form opener Graeme Smith and Sohail Tanvir, the highest wicket-taker in the competition. As things turned out, the result was known much before the last ball was bowled.

Shaun Marsh, the highest run-getter in the tournament, helped himself to a well-deserved century, his first in the competition, and enabled Kings XI post 221 for three in 20 overs. The opening stand of 133 between Marsh and fellow Aussie James Hopes laid the foundation for the big total. Yuvraj Singh joined the party and scored a quick 49.

Sixes and fours came in a flurry as Marsh hoisted seven effortless sixes and 11 stylishly-executed boundaries. In all, 14 sixes and 20 boundaries were hit off the listless Rajasthan attack. This included three successive sixes by Yuvraj off Siddharth Trivedi. Marsh was clearly the best batsman on view and rightly won his fifth Man of the Match award in 10 outings. The variety of strokes he played was a treat to watch. During the course of his innings, Marsh overtook Gautam Gambhir as the highest run-getter in the IPL.

Rajasthan showed no sense of urgency while chasing a mammoth target. The very fact that skipper Shane Watson chose to open the innings with Mohammad Kaif and Neeraj Patel, with debutant Younis Khan coming in at number three, showed that Rajasthan was far from desperate to win.

Patel scored a half-century before the hard-hitting duo of Yusuf Pathan and Kamran Akmal used the long handle to good effect. Rajasthan scored 180 for seven to lose by 41 runs. Akmal hit S. Sreesanth for three successive sixes to entertain the crowd.

THE SCORES

Kings XI Punjab v Rajasthan Royals, PCA Stadium, Mohali, May 28.

Result: Kings XI Punjab won by 41 runs.

Kings XI Punjab 221 for three in 20 overs (Shaun Marsh 115, James Hopes 51, Yuvraj Singh 49) beat Rajasthan Royals 180 for seven in 20 overs (Neeraj Patel 57, Yusuf Pathan 39, Kamran Akmal 24, Piyush Chawla three for 35).