Jaipur: Sreesanth's best trait has to be his unpredictability. If he could leave you screaming 'why' with his tweets -- long enough to be in contention for a world record -- over a five-year old issue without any real provocation, he could also make you jump in delight with his showing on the field, when you least expect it.
Sunday turned out to be when the Rajasthan Royals' enfant terrible chose to spring a pleasant surprise on his fans and detractors. Even as there were serious doubts over his playing this game considering his mental state in the wake of his rant on twitter, the pacer not only played but also effectively won the game for his team.
It took him just two overs to kill the contest for Kings XI Punjab. In his first over, the second of the innings, he removed openers Adam Gilchrist and Mandeep Singh. His second over saw a runout. It could also be credited to him as he kept things really tight and made the batsmen go for a risky single. At 10 for 3, he had pushed the visitors into a deep hole from which they could never crawl out.
Though nowhere near the best that he can be, he still proved more than handful for the Kings XI. Taking a cue from him, the other bowlers too kept things tight, allowing Kings XI amass just 124 runs. David Hussey waged a lone battle with a 41 but lacking support from any other batsman, he could only do so much.
The Royals batsmen, however, threatened to undo the good work of their bowlers for a brief while. And the man who gave them a scare was another temperamental bowler - Praveen Kumar. Matching Sreesanth on the lively pitch, Kumar's twin blow, removing skipper Rahul Dravid and Stuart Binny, in the eighth over saw the cruising Royals boat veer into choppy waters.
That, however, turned out to be false alarm as Ajinkya Rahane and the seasoned Brad Hodge steered it back towards the destination. The fall of Hodge after a little while again opened up a window of opportunity for the Kings XI, but Rahane stood firm, anchoring the chase with a helping hand from little known debutant Sanju Samson, an 18-year old wicket-keeper batsman from Kerala.