Pune: Rajasthan Royals cruised to a seven-wicket victory over Pune Warriors here Tuesday to stay on course for a playoff berth in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
After restricting Pune to a meagre 125 for six courtesy pacer Shaun Tait’s three wickets, Rajasthan cantered home as Australian all-rounder Shane Watson smashed an unbeaten 90 off 51 balls at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium.
The visitors overhauled the Pune score with 22 balls to spare and the victory catapulted them into fourth position in the IPL table.
Rajasthan’s top run-getter Ajinkya Rahane (0) had a rare failure, but captain Rahul Dravid and Watson steadied the ship playing some delightful shots. Dravid, who in eight consecutive previous innings had recorded scores of 25 plus, was foxed by a slower ball from South African pacer Wayne Parnell and was caught in the covers by Michael Clarke for 14.
Watson continued in his merry making ways as he smashed a hapless Pune attack all around the park. Young Ashok Menaria (18) played a smart innings, giving the Australian all-rounder as much strike as possible before being caught by Mithun Manhas in the deep.
Watson, who reached his fifty off 27 balls, hit four sixes and 10 fours in his knock as Rajasthan got to 126 for three.
Earlier, Pune’s problems with the top order continued as captain Sourav Ganguly (14) decided to open the innings. The decision had an adverse effect on the run rate as his partner Clarke, too, got bogged down.
Ganguly in a bid to improve the run-rate fell to a bouncer from Tait while Clarke followed him to the pavilion, trapped in front by Stuart Binny in the very next over.
Bengal batsman Anustup Majumdar, playing his first match in the tournament, gave the Pune innings a much needed impetus scoring 30 off 20 balls. However, spinner Johan Botha castled him after which the innings fell apart.
Robin Uthappa’s (13) poor run with the bat continued as he became Tait’s second victim and Sri Lankan Angelo Mathews (11) was run out by Owais Shah.
Australian Steven Smith, who had bailed out Pune on quite a few occasions, could only manage 18 today 22 balls.