Botha, Trivedi star as Rajasthan open with a win
Rajasthan Royals 141 for 2 (Botha 67*, Steyn 2-18) beat Deccan Chargers 137 for 8 (Ravi Teja 28, Trivedi 3-15)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Deccan Chargers were up against the mother of all jinxes. They had never won a game in front of their home crowd in Hyderabad, and had finished second-best in each of their six previous games against Rajasthan Royals. Things did not change at the end of their IPL 2011 opener against a limited, but inspired outfit. A visibly slimmer Shane Warne, with his eyebrows tweezed and sporting a brighter shade of blue than last year, led Rajasthan with aplomb, and his team responded well. Siddharth Trivedi choked Deccan's run flow with a canny spell of slow bouncers, before Johan Botha, elevated to the No. 3 spot, in the absence of Shane Watson and because of his comfort in playing fast bowling, guided them past the target of 138 in the 19th over.
Botha walked out to a pressure situation, after Amit Paunikar was snared by a vicious Dale Steyn away-seamer in the sixth over, with the run-rate under six runs per over. Clearly limited as a batsman, Botha resorted to singles unless bad balls came along. When they did, he ensured they were sent to the boundary. Pragyan Ojha was swept, Daniel Christian was scythed through the covers, Amit Mishra was reverse-swept and Steyn was pulled emphatically as the run-rate began to pick up. Rahul Dravid, however, continued to struggle and was eventually dismissed by a Steyn slower ball.
Amit Mishra piled on the pressure with a tight follow-up over, leaving Rajasthan needing 54 off the last six. With the game in the balance, Botha glanced Christian for four before Ross Taylor hammered Mishra in the 16th over, cutting fine for four, and lashing over deep square leg for six. Thirty-two required off 24 and advantage Rajasthan once again.
Steyn was not done though, producing an exemplary fourth over that went for just two, including three successive slower balls that Botha could not get away. Ishant Sharma, who had begun well, let the game slip with a shoddy 18th over that was plundered for 15 runs. The over began with a no-ball and included a slew of length balls, the last of which Taylor catapulted over midwicket. Botha sealed things in the 19th, in the process marching past 50.
Rajasthan could afford a couple of slip-ups in the chase, thanks to their excellence in the field earlier in the day. Deccan's top order seemed ill-equipped to deal with the lack of pace on the pitch: Ishank Jaggi kept going hard at the ball, but could not succeed against the seamers' discipline. Shikhar Dhawan looked to crunch boundaries through the off side, but just as he began to size up the conditions, he slogged Amit Singh straight to deep midwicket.
Thereafter Trivedi and Warne put their side in control. Kumar Sangakkara has had a hectic week, losing the World Cup final, standing down as Sri Lanka captain and taking charge of the Deccan side. His stint with the new franchise got off to a poor start as he edged an effort ball from Trivedi behind for a duck. When Bharat Chipli inside-edged a heave across the line, Deccan were in some strife and things got worse when Jaggi dragged Warne to long-on.
Warne evoked sights of his dominance over Daryl Cullinan as he reduced JP Duminy to groping and fumbling without conviction against his sliders. He eventually fell slicing Warne to long-off, as Deccan's innings floundered for momentum in the death overs. Christian and Ravi Teja injected some late momentum, but the final score of 137 was not enough to break the Hyderabad hoodoo.
Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo