Warne calls on top order to fire
Following the latest Rajasthan Royals' batting collapse, Shane Warne has called on his top order to take more responsibility if the team is to defend their title of IPL champions. Chasing a target of 140 set by Kings XI Punjab, Rajasthan slumped to 27 for 4 inside five overs and then lost two more before the ninth over, eventually losing by 27 runs.
"Our bowling and fielding were very good ... maybe they [Punjab] got 10-15 extra. Chasing 140, we should have done that but unfortunately our top order failed," Warne said. "They bowled well but we just didn't get our combination right as yet. Guys at the top are not doing the job, we have to look at that, the bowlers and fielders are doing their job."
Rajasthan have been struggling to cope with the absence of their Shane Watson and Graeme Smith's form has been poor so far. As a result, their batting collapsed in the first game against Bangalore and they relied on their middle order to prop them up to a defendable total against Kolkata.
"The batting is not fine and guys have to take the responsibility and show how important the competition is for them, so hopefully we will get it right in the next game," said Warne. "This pitch has a history and so it would have been better batting first but then 140 is chaseable, if we could have batted first five or six overs well we should have been being there. We have been playing in the first half but we have not been batting well in the first five or six overs. If we can do that we would surely be a tough force in the competition."
Warne himself scored 34 from 33 balls, the second highest score of a dismal innings, but by the time he came to the middle the match was all but over for Rajasthan.
Yuvraj Singh was a pleased man after Punjab won their second game and singled out Kumar Sangakkara and Irfan Pathan for their crucial partnership that smoothed over the loss of four wickets. "After losing early wickets, Sangakkara and Irfan Pathan batted well and got us to a decent total," he said. "We needed a good partnership and after 10 overs we discussed how we have to go till the 20 overs and we defended it nicely by good bowling in the end."
Sangakkara, Man of the Match for his 60, praised Irfan for his 33-ball 39, an effort that really changed the tempo of Punjab's innings. "He did most of the batting for us and I just made sure that we batted till the end," said Sangakkara. "I kept batting positive and then Irfan came and got the momentum back into our side.
"We have to make sure that we execute our game plan much better. There have been some run-outs so we have a little homework to do and hopefully we would keep the momentum going."