26th April 2009 - Newlands, Capetown: The Royals batsmen struggled in a low-scoring encounter as they failed to chase the 140 runs set by Kings XI Punjab. With this, the Royals have two losses and a win (along with a no-result) and will need to regroup before their next encounter.

 

The Kings XI Punjab beat the Rajasthan Royals at Newlands, a ground which is increasingly turning into an ‘unlucky’ mascot for the Royals. It was clinical performance by KXIP and none other than Irfan Pathan, brother of Yusuf Pathan, led the KXIP attack with his sublime batting and bowling performances. It was his batting that resulted in RR chasing 140 runs, a mammoth score on the slow Newlands pitch.

 

KXIP who choose to bat first, lost 2 quick wickets and RR found themselves in a situation similar to the one against Royal Challengers Bangalore in their opening encounter. This time though, it was Kamran Khan who led from the front and bamboozled the KXIP batsmen with his slower delivers. The remaining RR bowlers, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Yusuf Pathan and Munaf Patel did well to keep the run rate in check and frustrated the likes of Yuvraj Singh and Mahela Jayawardene. Patel did well to strike a double blow for RR, taking the wicket of the opposition captain and that of Jayawardene in successive overs. Both wickets were the outcome of pure inhibited pressure on the KXIP batting by the RR bowlers. However, the RR bowlers could not contain the already set Kumara Sangakkara and the all-rounder Irfan Pathan who took a bountiful of runs at the bowlers’ expense. KXIP made a good comeback after struggling at 48/4 but the RR bowling, which lost its way in the middle overs, did pull back the KXIP batting. It was Kamran Khan again who gave RR the much needed breakthrough by bowling Irfan Pathan. Sangakkara was then run out, but not before having hit a well paced 60 (51). With the two set batsmen gone, RR managed to stem the run flow and restrict KXIP to a chaseable total or so the RR batsmen thought. ‘We thought we gave away 20-30 more runs than we should have but 140 is still a chaseable total’ – Darren Berry on the performance of his bowlers.

 

RR’s reply began on a disappointing note with both the openers dismissed in the same over of Irfan Pathan. It was not long before Dimitri Mascarenhas, Rob Quiney, Yusuf Pathan and Abhishek Raut departed much to the delight of the KXIP squad. With RR reeling in on 42/6, victory was distant possibility. It was now up to the young gun Ravindra Jadeja and the magician Shane Warne to resurrect the RR innings. Playing within himself, Jadeja knocked the ball around for singles and so did Warne. The scoreboard was ticking and RR inching closer to the now, mammoth target of 140 runs. Both batsmen ensured that RR puts up a respectable fight, and it did. It was evident from the body language of the KXIP fielders, that the 7th wicket partnership between Jadeja and Warne may turn the match in latter’s favour. But Alas! It was not to be! Jadeja departed soon after RR reached a 100 runs and the fight was then left to Warne and Mahesh Rawat. Both batsmen were unable to break the shackles of the KXIP bowlers who ensured that RR does not turn the match on its head and win a lost encounter.

 

Rajasthan Royals have a lot of work to do in the batting department and especially while chasing competitive totals. It is still early days in the tournament and with 10 more matches to go, RR will need to up its game if it has to make it to the semis.

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