Posted by Gareth Parry Added on: April 06 2012
Rajasthan Royals 191 for 4 (Rahane 98) beat Kings XI Punjab 160 for 9 (Mandeep 34, Cooper 4-26) by 31 runs
The pitch in Jaipur was significantly different to that of the match earlier in the day. The surface looked pristine and promised a high scoring game.
It was a surprise when, having won the toss, Kings XI Punjab chose to bat second. The fact that Rajasthan then scored 191 suggests that Gilchrist made the wrong decision.
The opening pair for Rajasthan were instrumental in setting up such a huge total but they were helped tremendously by a poor first four overs from the Kings XI bowlers. Both Kumar and Faulkner are swing bowlers and neither managed to gain any real sideways movement in the batting friendly conditions in Jaipur. The lack of swing meant that the full length deliveries both bowlers served up could be dispatched with ease by Rahane and Dravid, with Dravid showing some of his tremendous skill in manoeuvring the ball through the leg side. With a score of 57 without loss at the end of the power play Kings XI were always behind in this innings.
The Kings XI bowlers managed to slow the scoring rate when the fielding restrictions were lifted but the damage had already been done. Dravid was eventually dismissed in the tenth over looking to up the run rate and build an imposing total. When Chawla bowled Menaria a few balls later Kings XI might have sense an opportunity to get back into the game.
This hope will have been short lived with Brad Hodge and then Owais Shah providing excellent support to the Rahane's superb innings. Having reached his 50 in the eleventh over Rahane proceeded to score runs at will. He played shots all around the ground and used his feet to come down the wicket to great effect. His very best shots were straight hits off the spinners. He was unselfish in his approach to, falling for 98 in the final over, trying to score a boundary when no one would have begrudged him looking for singles to bring up his century. In spite of the disappointment on missing out on a hundred, Rahane will be satisfied with his nights work, taking his side to a total that will take a mammoth effort from the Kings XI to chase.
One of crickets most overused clichés was appropriate tonight – the Kings XI Punjab couldn't handle the scoreboard pressure that chasing 191 brings.
With a required run rate of over 9.5 runs an over from the outset the Kings XI never look likely to make the runs. If they were going to pull off an upset Adam Gilchrist would have to play a major part in the proceedings. The Rajasthan Royals will have feared that this would be the case when he was dropped in the third over on 12 runs. However it wasn't to be Gilchrist's night and he was dismissed tamely in the end, lofting a catch to Kevin Cooper at mid off.
After this catch, Kevin Cooper (who smashed the first ball he faced when batting for 6) was involved in almost every good thing the Rajasthan Royals did. He returned excellent bowling figures of 4 for 26 which was just reward for his skilful use of slower balls and accurate lines. He also took 2 catches and even effected a run out.
When David Hussey fell in the 12th over, caught by Cooper, the match was as good as won. The only criticism that could be made of the Rajasthan performance was that at this stage they released the pressure and allowed the Kings XI tail to play with some freedom. Mandeep Singh in particular took advantage of the Royals generosity and helped himself to 34 from 25 balls. Rajasthan cannot afford to be so lacklustre against the IPL's stronger sides and had Kings XI had a stronger batting line up they could have made a real game of it.
With that criticism aside the Royal must be pleased with the win and in particular their batting performance. Also, at $50,000, Kevin Cooper could turn out to be the best value buy of the IPL 2012.