Rahane strikes as Rajasthan beats Pune in a thriller
Ajinkya Rahane struck a scintillating 67 while Rahul Dravid produced an age-defying innings to maintain Rajasthan Royals’ impeccable ‘home’ record as the hosts defeated Pune Warriors by five wickets in a thrilling match.
By the virtue of this win, Royals also exacted a ‘sweet revenge’ on their opponents, having tasted defeat on the previous occasion when the two sides met in Pune on April 11.
The match went down to the wire as Royals lost some quick wickets after the second strategic time-out was taken but Stuart Binny’s unbeaten 13-ball 32 ensured that ‘Fort SMS’ wasn’t breached.
Royals registered their sixth win at home with one ball to spare. Chasing a challenging target of 179 runs, Rahane and Dravid (58, 40 balls, 9×4, 6×1) provided their team a solid start, adding 98 runs for the opening-wicket partnership in just 11.5 overs.
Both made short work of the Pune bowlers and enthralled a sell-out crowd at the Sawai Man Singh stadium with their vast repertoire of stroke-play.
Dravid was the more aggressive of the two as he cut and drove Pune bowlers to reach his third fifty in the tournament in just 36 balls with a straight six over long-on off spinner Rahul Sharma.
Earlier, Robin Uthappa struck a fluent half-century and shared 97-run opening stand with skipper Aaron Finch as Pune Warriors posted a challenging 178 for four in 20 overs.
Uthappa scored an aggressive 41-ball 54 and, together in the company of Finch, who made an equally impressive 32-ball 45 after Warriors decided to bat first at the Sawai Man Singh stadium.
Mitchell Marsh provided the late flourish with a 21-ball 35, laced with two fours and three sixes, as Pune batsmen finally came good with the bat.