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The Bulletin by Siddarth Ravindran
April 18, 2009
Analysis : Pietersen makes the perfect start
Analysis : Warne wizardry lights up veterans' day
Preview : Preview
Series/Tournaments: Indian Premier League
A charged-up Bangalore Royal Challengers produced the sort of performance for which franchise owner Vijay Mallya splashed the big bucks to bundle out Rajasthan Royals to the second-lowest total in Twenty20 history. There may be plenty of fresh faces but it was the old hands, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble, who were the stars in Bangalore's massive victory. Dravid was the most assured batsman on display, making a polished half-century, while Kumble took the most economic five-wicket haul in Twenty20s to clean up Rajasthan.
Rajasthan lost their last five wickets for 11 runs to slide to an embarrassing defeat. Such an abject end was in stark contrast to their start: Dimitri Mascarenhas scalping two big wickets in the very first over to rock Bangalore, before Shane Warne's bag of tricks kept them to what seemed a gettable 133.
The performance from Bangalore's bowlers was unidentifiable from the limp showing against a marauding Brendon McCullum in their season-opener last year. Rajasthan had a galaxy of savage hitters but they were stifled to such an extent that the entire innings had only two sixes and a solitary four.
Praveen Kumar revelled in conditions which assisted him, dislodging the openers Swapnil Asnodkar and Graeme Smith. The shot selection from Rajasthan was cringeworthy, none more so than Asnodkar's wild swing in the first over which ended up in Virat Kohli's hands at point to start the slide. Niraj Patel struggled to find any rhythm while Tyron Henderson was shackled by the short ball from Praveen and Dale Steyn.
Rajasthan were stuttering at 26 for 3 after seven overs, but it was still an even game. The match was transformed in the next over, when Henderson and Mascarenhas were dismissed off consecutive delivers in the eighth over. Henderson was tricked by a slower ball from Jesse Ryder, and Mascarenhas was run out when he refused to take no for an answer after calling Yusuf Pathan for a single.
Half the side was gone, and the run-rate was soaring into double digits. In short, Rajasthan's chase was up in smoke. Kumble was then brought into the attack and his double-strike that lured Pathan and Ravindra Jadeja into false shots extinguished any lingering hopes.
It had been so different when Mascarenhas, getting the ball to dart around, dispatched the New Zealand pair of Jesse Ryder and Ross Taylor with his first three balls. Bangalore were gasping at 17 for 3 after five overs.
Kevin Pietersen, charged by Mallya with the duty of turning around Bangalore's form, was rarely troubled during his stay and, in Dravid's company, set about reviving Bangalore. They had collected an unfussy 35 runs, aided by a lightning outfield, before Pietersen mistimed a pull to a diving Niraj at midwicket.
Dravid, in the familiar role of repairing top-order collapses, calmly picked up the singles to keep the score ticking. He needed the rest to play around him, but they were bamboozled by Warne's variations. Kohli was beaten and bowled by one that drifted and dipped, while B Akhil had no reply to a classic ripping legspinner.
Dravid remained his composed self, playing a mix of orthodox and inventive strokes, to lift Bangalore. His trademark on-drive and favoured inside-out lofted drives were on view but he also mixed in some cheeky paddle-sweeps. Dravid was dismissed in the final over, foxed by a change of pace from Munaf Patel, but his 48-ball 66 had given his side's bowlers a total to defend.
The game ended in humiliation for Rajasthan, but as Warne pointed out, they started out their previous campaign with a similarly disastrous game, before scripting the fairytale run to the title.
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