Sunday, April 19, 2009

Surprise wins for Bangalore Royal Challengers and Mumbai Indians

Cape Town: Bangalore Royal Challengers crushed defending champions Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians did the same for runners-up Chennai Super Kings to give a astounding start to the Indian Premier League (IPL) here on Saturday.

Mumbai Indians had a disastrous start in the inaugural tournament losing first four matches last year beat Chennai Super Kings by 19 runs in the opening match of the IPL.

The Bangalore Royal Challengers team, led by skipper Kevin Pietersen, annihilated Rajasthan Royals by a massive 75 runs though they had finished last in the inaugural edition.

The 3 Indian veterans of cricket - Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble, led the way for their teams, using their experience of playing on bowler-friendly wickets.

Sachine Tendulkar's 59 off 49 balls was the highlight of Mumbai Indians, whose total was 165 for seven wickets.

The Sri Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga (3-15), and Sanath Jayasuriya (2-34) restricted Chennai Super Kings to 146 for seven wickets.

In the second match, Dravid, who was replaced by Pietersen as Bangalore Royal Challengers captain, struck back, hitting 66 and guiding the team through a difficult phase to reach 133.

Rajasthan Royals, who had a fairytale inaugural season, were all out for the lowest IPL score of 58 runs with Kumble picking five wickets.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni's decision to bowl under cloudy skies, after a delayed start appeared spot on as Tendulkar and his opening partner Sanath Jayasuriya (26) had an unconvincing start. Jayasuriya was run out, ending the 39-run opening stand.

It turned out to be a forgettable debut for Andrew Flintoff, who was on the receiving end of Abhishek Nayar's onslaught. Nayar made a quickfire 35 off just 14 balls and hit Flintoff for three sixes in a 22-run over.

While chasing, Chennai Super Kings suffered the first set-back as Malinga got opening batsman Parthiv Patel with the second ball of the innings.

Matthew Hayden (44) played carefully but as the innings progressed he found his touch. The retired Australian opener fell while chasing a wide Jayasuriya delivery to Zaheer Khan.

Flintoff (24) and Dhoni (36) tried their best but could not see their teams through.

Tendulkar was guarded in his assessment of the team's performance.

"I am glad that we have started well, but I don't want to take anything for granted. It's too early in the tournament and it's same for the other teams also." he said.

The second match started on a exciting note with Dimitry Mascarenhas (3-20) dismissing Jesse Ryder and Ross Taylor in the first over in successive balls.

Royal Challengers were soon left tottering at 52/4 before Dravid, a master of these conditions, summoned his class to anchor the innings. His 48 balls for 66 had eight fours. Pietersen added 32.

"I am in good touch after the tour on New Zealand. Conditions here are ideal for a player like me. You have to play good cricketing shots when the ball is moving. I played few balls to set myself in the middle and then played strokes," Dravid said.

The Rajasthan Royals were sloppy in their run-chase with the batsmen getting out to poor shots. Praveen Kumar (2-7) swung the ball to create trouble for the batsmen. Ryder soon joined in (2-14) to leave Rajasthan Royals at five for 28 runs. They could never recover from such a disastrous start.

Kumble, who bid farwell to international cricket last year, running through the middle-order and tail in a flash, picking 5-5.

Rajasthan Royals captain Shane Warne said it was an "embarassing" beginning."We are the champions and we should have backed ourselves. Bangalore had a bad last year and they came out firing. Chasing a low score, we should have won with couple of overs left. The shot selections of our batsmen were bad."

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