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BANGALORE: Ajinkya Rahane blasted the first century of IPL-V as Rajasthan Royals upset Royal Challengers Bangalore by a massive 59 runs at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here, on Sunday. With six points from five games, Rajasthan are now top of the points table.
But really, where does one begin to write a match report when a team, batting first, has amassed 113 runs in the last eight overs of its innings? How does one decide upon the key moments of a contest when a total of ten sixes and 19 fours - that’s 136 runs of a total of 195 – are hammered in the first essay itself.
Get a hang of the enormity of the math, pause and draw your breath at the humiliation meted out to bowlers, and only then dwell upon the result of the game – a huge away win for Rajasthan over favoured Bangalore – an outcome which was scarcely in doubt once Rahane’s 60-ball 103 and Owais Shah’s 26-ball 60 had floored the home team by the time the first 20 overs were dispensed with.
Welcome to the Indian Premier League, the graveyard of bowlers, and the end of cricket as a genuine contest between bat and ball.
And to those who hold up Rajasthan’s bowling performance as a counter to the previous argument, bear in mind that the cascade of wickets during the chase was largely a result of the massive asking rate, rather than an outcome of any skill or assistance that the bowlers may have benefited from.
But to begin with the beginning, Rahul Dravid won the toss and elected to bat on a placid track. The skipper was dismissed for an out-of-place 32-ball 25, allowing Rahane and Shah assumed centre stage and compile a 121-run partnership in – hold your breath – just 50 deliveries.
Faced with a sizable target, Bangalore succumbed to the mounting pressure of the chase, and once medium-pacer Pankaj Singh (4-0-18-2) accounted for both openers – including the talismanic Chris Gayle before he could cause any damage - the match was virtually over as a contest. Siddharth Trivedi (4-0-25-4) pushed one through Virat Kohli’s gate – the medium pacer’s second of four bowled victims - to snuff out the last embers of hope in Bangalore’s camp, and eventually the host was done in as wickets kept tumbling in the face of a spiralling asking rate.
Earlier, Rahane galloped to the first century of IPL-V as he and Shah whipped Rajasthan to 195. It would be futile to dwell upon individual hits – of which there were many, but it would also be pertinent to mention that Rahane went berserk in Sreenath Aravind’s 14th over of the first innings, when he ripped apart the bowler for six consecutive boundaries.
The hits rained thick and fast as Vinay Kumar too was thrashed for 24 in the 17th over. Rahane reached his century in just 58 balls, and Shah his fifty in just 19, as Royals kept up a frenetic pace. Rahane’s last fifty runs took just 17 balls, and coupled with the havoc Shah was unleashing at the other end, Royals looted 82 runs in the last five overs, defusing Bangalore’s challenge even before the home team had taken strike.
It would be apt to mention here that amidst the deluge of runs, Zaheer Khan bowled his four overs for 15 (including a maiden), while skipper Vettori completed his quota for just 20. Unfortunately for Bangalore, the rest of the bowlers more than made up for the good shows with their generosity.