Steyn takes a hiding

K. MURALI KUMAR

De Villiers (in pic) once again proved to be Dale Steyn’s bugbear. Just as he had walloped the fast bowler in a match in IPL-5, the Royal Challengers batsman came down heavily on the fellow South African this time too, to pave the way for his team’s victory in Bangalore.

At a promotional event, a day before the match against Sunrisers Hyderabad, the Royal Challengers Bangalore batsman, A. B. de Villiers, joked that he was glad to have wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel on his side. “Parthiv is terribly irritating with his constant chatter,” de Villiers remarked, as Parthiv nodded in agreement. It would be fair to assume that Dale Steyn too would not mind playing alongside de Villiers, for the fast bowler was at the receiving end of a match-winning assault from the RCB dasher.

At the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore (May 4), de Villiers forced his side into contention in an exhilarating 19th over where Steyn went for 24 runs. De Villiers’ piece de resistance came off the final ball of the over. Shuffling across the stumps — in anticipation of a searing yorker — he audaciously paddle-swept Steyn, the ball taking flight and landing into the top tier of the stands at fine-leg. The required rate dropped drastically from 28 off 12 balls to an easily manageable four off six deliveries.

Steyn had a similar unpleasant experience at the same venue during the 2012 edition, when de Villiers had knocked 23 runs off the fast bowler in the 18th over and led RCB to a miraculous victory against Deccan Chargers.

The Watson influence

Shane Watson’s contribution as an all-rounder and captain has been huge in Rajasthan Royals’ progress this year. The well-built Australian marshalled his resources well as Rajasthan recorded a comprehensive seven-wicket victory over Delhi Daredevils at the Ferozeshah Kotla the other night. Right from winning the toss and electing to field, Watson was perfect in each of his moves. He executed the team’s plans nicely and never let the situation get out of hand.

Watson never repeated any of his bowlers until the seventh over. The variety of bowlers kept the Daredevils batsmen guessing during powerplay and earned Rajasthan some important breakthroughs. Applying the brakes in the middle overs ensured that the Daredevils never reached a big total. However, after Quinton de Kock’s brilliant 42, J. P. Duminy (39) unleashed his firepower to take the home team to 152 for five.

In the chase, Watson’s confidence in his youngsters paid dividends. Despite the early departure of the accomplished Ajinkya Rahane, the young duo of Karun Nair (73 not out) and Sanju Vishwanadh (34) added 51 runs to put Rajasthan on a sound platform.

INSPIRING TEAM-MATES. Rajasthan Royals skipper Shane Watson congratulates an ecstatic Praveen Tambe (centre) on dismissing Quinton de Kock of Delhi Daredevils. Wicketkeeper Sanju Samson (right) too joins in the celebration.-S. SUBRAMANIUM

Nair, 22, who played a significant role in his debut season to help Karnataka win the Ranji Trophy, showed a lot of maturity and switched from his role as a sheet-anchor to a quick run-getter to score his maiden IPL half-century, which saw his team home.

Nair acknowledged Watson as a source of support. “He (Watson) encourages all the youngsters. We play as a team and are not dependent on a particular player. I think that is why we are winning most of the matches,” he said.

With Watson as the skipper and Rahul Dravid as the mentor, Rajasthan Royals may go from strength to strength in IPL-7.

Jadeja’s feat

In the Twenty20 format, one great performance can turn the game on its head. This was evident in the match between Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders, where the former won by a crushing 34-run margin at the JSCA International Stadium in Ranchi on May 2.

The teams, meeting for the first time this season, were greeted by a smart shower just after the toss. Due to this, the game was reduced to 17-overs-a-side.

First, New Zealander Brendon McCullum, a former KKR star, came up with a sizzling 40-ball 56 (five fours and two sixes) to power CSK to 148 for three. When KKR got down to chasing the target, Man of the Match Ravindra Jadeja rose to the occasion on a responsive pitch to grab four for 12 — the season’s best — to turn the match on its head.

Jadeja’s figures eclipsed two records: they bettered L. Balaji’s four for 13 (achieved for Kings XI Punjab against Sunrisers Hyderabad earlier this season) and were the best against KKR in IPL, surpassing Makhaya Ntini’s four for 21 (achieved in Kolkata in 2008).

The fourth defeat in six games was a matter of worry for the KKR team management, but an unfazed Uthappa said the team had eight more games to stage a recovery.

The Scores

May 2, 2014: Chennai Super Kings 148 for three in 17 overs (B. McCullum 56, S. K. Raina 31) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 114 for nine in 17 overs (R. Uthappa 47, Y. Pathan 41, M. Sharma 3 for 22, R. Jadeja 4 for 12).

May 3: Kings XI Punjab 168 for five in 20 overs (W. Saha 59 not out, G. Maxwell 45) lost to Mumbai Indians 170 for five in 19.1 overs (C. Gautam 33, R. Sharma 39, C. Anderson 35, K. Pollard 28 not out).

Delhi Daredevils 152 for five in 20 overs (Quinton de Kock 42, J. P. Duminy 39, K. Jadhav 28 not out) lost to Rajasthan Royals 156 for three in 18.3 overs (K. Nair 73 not out, S. Samson 34).

May 4: Hyderabad Sunrisers 155 for six in 20 overs (S. Dhawan 37, D. Warner 61) lost to Bangalore Royal Challengers 158 for six in 19.5 overs (C. Gayle 27, A. B. de Villiers 89 not out, K. Sharma three for 17).

Ashwin Achal, Y. B. Sarangi & S. Sabanayakan