The Rajasthan Royals, over the years, have been blessed to have some of the finest T20 bowlers in our ranks. Be it spinners like the magician Shane Warne himself, an unlikely figure like Praveen Tambe, or high-quality pacers like Sohail Tanvir and Tim Southee. It is, therefore, needless to say that across seasons there have been countless occasions when a bowler has come on and completely changed the complexion of the match. In this edition of Rajasthan Royals’ Throwback Thursday, we once again go back to the very first season of the Indian Premier League and look back at some of the most devastating spells by our Royals’ bowlers.

3. Yusuf Pathan’s 3/22 against Chennai Super Kings at Mumbai

When we look back at the historic IPL final in 2008, we fondly remember the majestic innings of Yusuf Pathan. However, much before he walked out to bat, he had already made a telling contribution, which was equally important to us as his batting heroics. In fact, if it was not for him, then we could have been chasing a much bigger score than the eventual 164.

Coming into bowl in a pressure match, that too within the powerplay is never easy. Most bowlers around the world would be content just to bowl the overs economically, and perhaps that was the reason why Shane Warne brought him on. Not only did Yusuf deliver by checking the flow of the runs, but also by dismissing both the openers. He first removed young CSK opener Vidyut, in the fifth over caught by Ravindra Jadeja and then backed it up by dismissing Parthiv Patel. In a surprising move, Albie Morkel was sent in to bat at number four with the intention of upping the ante. This plan was nipped in the bud by Pathan, as he was comprehensively stumped by wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal, as Pathan managed to outfox him. Pathan conceded just 22 runs off his four overs and also picked up three top-order wickets and restricted a dangerous CSK batting order from running away with the match. This along with his blistering innings with the bat earned him the Man of the Match award in the all-important final of the IPL in 2008.

2. Shane Watson’s 3/10 against Delhi Daredevils at Mumbai

If Yusuf Pathan was the man for the final, then it was Shane Watson who had won us the semi-final against table-toppers Delhi Daredevils. In a do-or-die encounter against the team which had the most points after the league phase, Shane Watson turned chief destructor with the bat and the ball to take us to the final. He firstly played a blinder of an innings scoring 52 off just 29 balls to help us post an above par score of 192.

However, no score is big enough when the in-form opening pair of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir gets going. Moreover, they also had the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Dinesh Karthik to follow. Hence, early wickets were the need of the hour for the Royals’ once the second innings commenced. Bowling the second over of the innings, Watson got the prized scalp of Virender Sehwag with his second ball. In his second and third overs, Watson had sent both Gautam Gambhir and Shikhar Dhawan back to the pavilion, leaving the Daredevils looking down the barrel at 4/28. The Daredevils never recovered from the early setbacks caused by Watson and were bowled out for a paltry total of 87, thus taking the Royals to the finals.

1. Sohail Tanvir’s 6/14 against Chennai Super Kings at Jaipur

Sohail Tanvir was a revelation, to say the least during the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League. He ran through the opposition on many occasions to win us several games. Although, his performances against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, where he took 3 wickets and conceded just 10 runs from his allocated four overs, and against Mumbai Indian where he took four wickets for 14 runs, is extremely special to every Royals’ fan, one spell, which is etched in the memory of every cricket lover, is the one against the mighty Chennai Super Kings. In this league match at Jaipur, the man from Rawalpindi decimated the much heralded CSK batting line-up and pummelled them to submission. In the seamer-friendly conditions, Tanvir utilised the pace and bounce perfectly to take 6 wickets for 14 runs. He dismissed both openers Parthiv Patel and Kiwi captain Stephen Fleming with cutters in the same over. In his next over, Tanvir got the better of Vidyut, with a delivery which left the batsman at the last moment to hand a simple catch to Shane Warne who pouched it comfortably at the slip cordon.

Tanvir struck again with the very first ball of his second spell when he removed hard-hitting all-rounder Albie Morkel. The CSK tail-enders too found Sohail Tanvir too hot to handle as Makhaya Ntini, and Muttiah Muralitharan too departed without putting up any resistance.

The fact that in 12 years, no one has managed to better this figure and this reflects how special this was. It also seems like that is a competition like IPL not many will be able to beat this any time soon. If it happens, we hope it is one of our boys who will do it!

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