Pune opener Aaron Finch provided his team with a blistering start.
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Pune Warriors beat Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets.
Pune Warriors ended an eleven-match losing streak across two IPL seasons by registering a seven-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals at their home ground on Saturday. After being humiliated by Kings XI Punjab in their last match, Pune were better prepared this time with Yuvraj Singh back in the side. The star player made his presence felt as Pune restricted Royals to a modest 145 and then smashed the winning runs with a towering six that crowned his 28-run cameo and ended the chase with eight balls to spare.
When Royals batted, Rahul Dravid (54) and Ajinkya Rahane (30) looked at one stage to get them to a bigger total, but two stunning catches – by Angelo Mathews and Ross Taylor – accounted for both. Leg-spinner Rahul Sharma conceded just 16 in his quota of four and was an effective option for skipper Mathews.
Pune exploded into the chase. Openers Robin Uthappa (32, 16b, 2x6) and Aaaron Finch (64, 53b, 3x6) rustled up 58 in under five overs, making a hash of the required rate. It was regulation from then on and Finch’s relentless hitting saw Pune home safely despite his dismissal later. Dravid took a magnificent reflex catch at short mid-wicket to get rid of Uthappa, but the momentum that the openers had provided was enough.
Catches win matches and even before Finch wrecked the Royals with an innings of high brutality, the hosts had been served by two sensational displays of athleticism field. Rahane, looking to smash Rahul Sharma through his preferred off-side, saw Mathews dive low to pouch a sharp catch. The other man in form, Dravid, was done in by an even better one, when Ross Taylor plucked him out of nowhere at cover, just when the Royals skipper was looking to accelerate.
Royals never recovered from the double-blow and finished with a total at least 25 runs short. Desperate for a win, Pune’s strategy to target the Powerplay paid off. Uthappa and Finch both smashed sixes off S. Sreesanth, whose first spell of two overs leaked 28, and the home team posted 64/1 in the first 6 overs. In contrast Rajasthan had managed just 44 in their Powerplay and lost both the set batsmen, Dravid and Rahane, when they attempted to speed up things.
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