Siddharth Trivedi leads disciplined performance
He wasn't nearly as quick as Shaun Tait. He didn't engage in verbal jousts with batsmen or erupt after a wicket like Munaf Patel. He wasn't the Man of the Match. He didn't even have the best figures of the game but, as his captain Shane Warne acknowledged later, a "fantastic" Siddharth Trivedi delivered the goods when the ball was thrown to him. Trivedi's tight first spell revived Rajasthan Royals when Kings XI Punjab were cruising along smoothly and set in motion a dramatic collapse that leapfrogged Rajasthan to joint fourth on the points table.
Three nights ago it was Punjab who applied the squeeze on a lacklustre Chennai Super Kings, chipping away with wickets to force a Super Over and then taking the match in tense manner. Tonight, it was their turn to collapse, albeit against a tougher target, from a place of dominance. From a manic 76 for 1 after the Powerplay overs, Punjab lost nine wickets for 67 runs from the time a rampant Manvinder Bisla was dismissed by Warne in the eighth over.
Trivedi's contribution was outstanding. His role, coming in at second change, was not to hurl the ball down at pace but rather to rely on his variations. There was extra bounce on this surface and Trivedi did just that at the right time for success. His first spell came immediately after the Powerplay. At 76 for 1, Punjab had set down a platform, and Bisla was threatening to see them home. From the word go Trivedi settled down to bowl a tight line, using the offcutter and slower delivery to good effect. In his first over he set about the change in tone, conceding just four runs, one of which was a leg bye. Bisla twice tried to skip out and dictate terms, but failed both times. Ravi Bopara, keen to play the sheet anchor's role, had trouble spotting the slower ball.
Only five followed in his second over, during which he surprised Yuvraj Singh with a snorter. The use of the short delivery, particularly against the Indian batsmen, has been successful this season and Trivedi was well aware. In a chase where Punjab needed to score at 9.20 an over, Trivedi had given just nine runs in two overs, and the pressure led to a wicket. Bisla tried to break the shackles against Warne and picked out the fielder in the deep.
In his next over, the 11th, Trivedi again repeated the short delivery and got Yuvraj to miscue a pull out to deep square leg, where Michael Lumb put down a straightforward chance. There was hardly time for Rajasthan to react in despair, for two deliveries later Yuvraj misread a slower ball and skied to long-on.
Warne kept Trivedi's last over for later and brought him on for the penultimate over - after Tait bowled a superb 18th - with Punjab needing 43 from 12 balls. The game was Rajasthan's, but a loose over wasn't what they required. Trivedi capped his evening with Mahela Jayawardene's wicket, finishing with 2 for 25.
It is important to have wicket-taking options after your new-ball pair and Trivedi provides that. He certainly doesn't have the conventional fast bowler's build, but a sprightly leap as he nears the crease and a whippy arm action help him generate decent pace and good bounce. He's also fairly accurate, and an economy rate of 6.37 after three games is something that some of the established international stars can't boast of.
Trivedi really was a star tonight, bowling at crucial periods, but there were other contributors along the way. Munaf hadn't had the best of tournament so far - in fact he had yet to bowl a complete spell in any of his matches - but his wobbly medium-pace was ideally suited to conditions under lights. His second and third overs were painful, with Kumar Sangakkara and Bisla tearing into him, but when Warne tossed him the ball ahead of the 13th over, with Punjab 112 for 3, Munaf delivered. Until this time Munaf had appeared disgruntled, and keen to shoot off his mouth at the batsmen, but here he kept a cool head and shut his mouth to bowl a decisive over with two lovely slower deliveries producing wickets.
Tait's evening seemed headed for another poor outing when he had his first delivery put down by the wicketkeeper down the leg side, and soon after when Sangakkara took him for three boundaries in four balls. But Tait banged in a short ball and got the Punjab captain steering to third man. Later, when he was called back to bowl two overs at the death, Tait snuffed out the tail.
Punjab's run-chase stumbled as Warne fell back on his domestic players, and Trivedi and Munaf took pace off the ball in a manner that made them extremely effective in crunch situations. While the master tactician continues to disappoint with the ball, his apprentices are starting to find their feet in this season's competition. Warne was the first to admit that the manner in which his group responded was brilliant.
Much of the credit for this win must go to handy 60-run fourth-wicket partnership between Faiz Fazal and Adam Voges, which in the end was the difference between the two sides. When Rajasthan lost their third wicket wicket they were 111 in 13 overs; Punjab lost their third wicket at 107, after 11 overs. From there, the two innings shaped up differently: while Fazal and Voges lifted Rajasthan's middle order with a fifty partnership, Punjab's middle order fell apart in 23 deliveries. Voges, whose last and only two IPL innings have transformed the tone of the innings, was deservedly named Man of the Match.
In a team shorn of flashy players and big-hitting heavyweights, it was perhaps no surprise that Rajasthan's win was down to a good old-fashioned all-round effort.
Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo