Raut shepherds Rajasthan to victory
Rajasthan Royals prevailed in a see-saw chase which included three wickets in two overs and 51 runs in seven. Disciplined spells of bowling were followed by some nerveless batting, though misfields and dropped catches from Deccan Chargers contributed to the close finish.
Yusuf Pathan, having starred with the ball early in the piece, took Rajasthan to within 11 of victory with two overs to go. Abhishek Raut, who played an anchoring role with an unbeaten 36 off 23 balls, was joined by Shane Harwood in the middle and Dwayne Smith fumbled a run-out chance with 10 needed off 10.
Some anxious moments ensued as Deccan argued that only one of the two runs that Raut and Harwood ran during the run-out attempt could be counted since the umpire had already signalled a referral at the end of the first run. But the deduction did not amount to much after Rohit Sharma failed to collect a ball and let it go for four instead. That eased the pressure on Rajasthan, who needed only two off the final over. Fidel Edwards bowled two dot balls but messed up a possible run-out of the third. Raut and Harwood took two singles to finish the game with two balls to spare.
But it had looked like Deccan had their fifth win in the bag when Rajasthan found themselves at 3 for 3 at the end of two overs. Graeme Smith slashed a catch to third man after having nearly got run out, following which Swapnil Asnodkar, again slow to react to a call, gave up his wicket as Lee Carseldine nearly reached his crease. Naman Ojha gave RP Singh a wicket-maiden after his struggle to pick the line ended with a catch to Herschelle Gibbs at point. At the end of three overs Rajasthan were 5 for 3, as opposed to Deccan who were at 27 for no loss at that stage.
Then Ravindra Jadeja and Carseldine added 51 in seven overs - Carseldine hitting five fours in 11 balls - but the two fell within four balls of each other. Rajasthan went into the strategy break marginally ahead of Deccan at the end of 10 overs - 60 to their 58 - but had lost two wickets less in hand. Shane Warne pushed Yusuf down the order and brought himself and Raut up in a move that worked. The over immediately after the strategy break was the most effective as Warne first pulled Venugopal Rao for a six to midwicket, was dropped off the next, slogged another six off the third before Raut joined in with a four to fine leg.
They rotated the strike for the rest of the partnership and even after Warne's fall, Raut continued to patiently collect the runs, leaving the big-hitting to Yusuf. He perhaps only missed out on a Man-of-the-Match award because Yusuf not only hit a cameo innings of 24 off 14 but also bowled a crucial opening spell of 4-0-19-1.
Rajasthan began with a spin-heavy attack - three of the first 10 overs were bowled by fast bowlers - and it looked like it would take the game way after the way Gilchrist batted in the first three overs. But Yusuf and Harwood ensured Deccan went into the strategy break not feeling quite comfortable. T Suman and Rohit provided a shot in the arm to Deccan's innings with a 59-run stand but the early reining-in by Yusuf and Harwood made the eventual difference to the result.
Nishi Narayanan is a staff writer at Cricinfo