Rahul Dravid and Adam Gilchrist have praised the Rajasthan Royals bowlers for tying down the Kings XI Punjab batsmen towards the end of their innings in Mohali on Thursday. Kings XI were 105 for 2 in the 15th over but were restricted to 145 for 6, Royals allrounder Kevon Cooper leading the way with 3 for 23 from four overs. Ajinkya Rahane then made his third successive half-century as Royals recorded their ninth win of the season with eight wickets and an over to spare.
Dravid, the Royals captain, said death bowling had been a "major concern" for his side, and something that had been discussed among the players. "We have been discussing the issue in the team meetings, working out ways on how to improve our bowling at the death. We actually had a chat with two to three bowlers," Dravid said. "We came out with a few ideas and some plans. The bowlers have been implementing those plans for the last couple of games. I think the bowlers, particularly Kevon and James Faulkner, performed really well."
Gilchrist, the Kings XI captain, said his batsmen should have made more runs in the last five overs but also credited the Royals attack. "The middle-order batsmen didn't capitalise on the start," Gilchrist said. "But full credit to the Rajasthan bowlers. They worked out how to bowl at the death on that wicket. They had the perfect variations and took pace off the ball.
"The pitch was slower than usual. And that made it difficult for the batsmen to hit boundaries. That took the steam out of our batting. We wanted to set a target of around 160, which would have been competitive on this wicket. We had a good foundation but the middle-order batsmen failed to launch themselves."
Despite the early loss of Dravid in the chase, Rahane formed big partnerships with Shane Watson and Sanju Samson as Royals motored to victory. "We timed the chase perfectly," Dravid said. "It could have been a tricky chase, especially because of the slow wicket. They have got very good bowlers in their line-up as well. But Watson and Rahane had a good partnership going to lay the foundation. Then Rahane and Sanju Samson finished it off quite well."
Samson, the 18-year old wicketkeeper-batsman from Kerala, has impressed in the few opportunities he's got so far, and made an important contribution again, with an unbeaten 47 off 33 deliveries. Dravid said there was "something special" about Samson. "I hope he continues to work hard," Dravid said. "He is a very tough customer to bowl at. If you think you can stifle him by bowling short deliveries, you are wrong. He actually plays the short ball quite well. He can play shots and is a very good player of spin."
Cooper, the Man of the Match, said the slow Mohali pitch suited his bowling. "I wasn't bowling well in the last few games," Cooper said. "I knew I had to do well here. So it feels really nice to contribute to the team's win. The wicket was a bit slow. Actually, it suited my bowling. I just tried to take the pace off the ball and it worked out well for me. We bowled well in partnerships. That's very important in T20 cricket."