Seamers set up Bangalore win
Royal Challengers Bangalore 132 for 5 (Pietersen 62) beat Rajasthan Royals 130 for 6 by 5 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
On a slow pitch that lacked bounce, Royal Challengers Bangalore restricted Rajasthan Royals to 130 before they knocked it off without much fuss to win a crucial encounter in Jaipur. With this crushing win, Bangalore now move to second position in the points table.
It was a disciplined performance from Bangalore who kept things simple and let Rajasthan's top order collapse under the pressure of setting a target. Shane Warne said at the toss that he reckoned 165-170 was a par total and perhaps, the attempt to set a big target did them in. The pitch too, certainly, played its part and they lost their way.
The chase was over in a blink, with Kevin Pietersen taking complete control of the innings with an entertaining and aggressive knock. He looted 18 runs in the fourth over, bowled by Kamran Khan, with the help of four boundaries - a slapped four, a muscled hit over mid-off, a scorching off-drive and a pulled six. When he collected three more boundaries in the sixth, bowled by Adam Voges, Bangalore were comfortably on course. The only hope left for Rajasthan was whether Warne could produce any magic but Pietersen and Robin Uthappa went after him in style to deliver the killer blow.
Though their bowling lacked bite, it was the batsmen who let down Rajasthan today. Things went wrong right from the start when Michael Lumb was run out trying to steal a single to backward point. The new batsman Amit Paunikar fell for a first-ball duck, edging an attempted hook to the keeper. The worst shot from a top-order batsman, though, was from Naman Ojha who heaved a back-of-a-length delivery from outside off to mid-on. In a blink, Rajasthan had slipped to 21 for 3 in 3.2 overs and though Shane Watson attempted a repair job, there was never a phase of play where Rajasthan dominated.
Once the top order collapsed and Abhishek Jhunjhunwala, who likes to stay beside the line and thread the off side, struggled to pierce a packed off-side field, it was obvious that the responsibility of scoring runs would fall on Watson and Yusuf Pathan. And they seemed to have a plan. Jhunjhunwala would try to hit out while Watson would drop anchor, but with Jhunjhunwala failing to get any momentum, Watson tried to force the pace, and fell. He pulled Jacques Kallis low to the right of square leg where Pietersen took a sharp catch to leave Rajasthan wobbling at 53 for 4.
Much depended on Yusuf at that stage but he was kept quiet by a barrage of short-pitched deliveries. Some kicked up shoulder high, some reared towards his chest and some jumped just above his waist but, collectively, it was enough to keep him in check. He edged the pull shots, was late on attempted hooks, couldn't connect with his upper cuts and his mode of dismissal showed his mindset. When Dale Steyn, who turned in yet another impressive spell of pace bowling, came on to bowl at him, Yusuf expected a short delivery first up and retreated well inside the crease. However, Steyn surprised him with a full delivery that curved away gently and Yusuf, rooted to his crease, couldn't get bat to ball. It could have been worse for Rajasthan, who were struggling at 72 for 6, but Adam Voges played a calm hand, along with Abhishek Raut, to ensure they crossed 100.
For Bangalore, each bowler impressed with his discipline: Pankaj Singh hit the full length and varied his pace, Vinay Kumar hit the back of length, Steyn troubled with his pace and variations in length, Kallis used his offcutters to good effect and Kumble was, well, his typical nagging self. They kept Rajasthan down to an under-par score, and Pietersen finished them off.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo