Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Graeme Smith and Naman Ojha guide Rajasthan to victory in IPL

Openers Graeme Smith and Naman Ojha scored half-centuries while pace bowler Amit Singh took an impressive 3-9 on Tuesday to steer the Rajasthan Royals to a 78-run win over the Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League.

Smith top-scored with 77, hitting 12 boundaries and a six, while Ojha faced 51 balls and struck five boundaries and five sixes for his 68 runs as Rajasthan reached 211-4, scaling the 200-run mark for the first time in the 2009 IPL series.

Punjab managed 133-8 in reply.

Smith and Ojha batted solidly to put on 135 for the first wicket, often coming down the wicket to the Punjab opening bowlers, offspinner Ramesh Pawar and pace bowler Irfan Pathan. There was little swing as expected at Kingsmead and the seam bowlers in particular fell short on length.

Smith and Ojha capitalised, mainly on the leg side, with Sree Santh and Yusuf Abdulla both costing 44 runs without a wicket.

"For them to play the way they did and set the tone was fantastic," said Rajasthan captain Shane Warne said of his openers.

Rajasthan then kept up the pressure when it came to bowling, with Singh taking two wickets in the first over. The 27-year-old right-armer got the very first ball to lift sharply for Sunny Sohal to offer a nick behind to Warne in the slips.

Singh struck again with his last ball of the over when Karan Goel, on one, mis-hit a shorter delivery and was caught at square leg by Shane Harwood.

Siddharth Trivedi then bowled Simon Katich (10) with a full toss which was inside-edged into the stumps to leave Punjab on 25-3 in the fifth over.

Kumar Sangakkara, who was dropped on one run by Warne, made another 10 before he was stumped by Ojha off Yusuf Pathan. Ten runs later Mahela Jayawardene, who added nine runs, was caught by Trivedi in the deep off Shane Harwood in the eighth over.

A sixth wicket stand runs between Yuvraj Singh (48 off 37 balls) and Irfan Pathan (19 off 17 balls) made sure Punjab's score was respectable.

Warne, who took 2-38 in his three overs, broke up the partnership when he trapped Pathan in front in the 14th over. Warne got his second wicket when Piyush Chawla came down the wicket in search of a boundary, only to be caught by Ravindra Jadeja at long on for six.

Yuvraj was the last wicket, top-edging a delivery from Amit Singh to square leg where Harwood took the catch in the 19th over.

"We bowled badly," said Yuvraj. "We didn't stick to our plans and didn't get the breakthroughs. We bowled badly at the death and gave away too many runs."

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