This is not how Rajasthan Royals skipper Shane Warne would have wanted his Jaipur fairytale to end. This is not what he would want to be remembered for.
Rajasthan Royals crashed to their sixth defeat in IPL 4 at Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Wednesday, which virtually ended their hopes of making it to the playoffs. Stranded at 11 points from 12 matches, even two wins in their remaining ‘away’ matches won’t be good enough for Royals.
In their must-win game against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Wednesday, Royals went down by nine wickets with three overs to spare. The 146 for six that they managed on a strip where Chennai Super Kings had got almost 200 a couple of days ago, was never going to be challenging enough. Particularly not with Chris Gayle, Tillekeratne Dilshan and Virat Kohli in the opposition ranks. It was always a matter of when RCB would complete the formalities, rather than how.
RCB, led by Kohli in the absence of Daniel Vettori, are now strongly placed to make the final-four stage with 15 points from 11 games.
It was once again the Caribbean pirate who sank the Royals ship. The indomitable Gayle smashed an unbeaten 44-ball 70 to lead his team to yet another easy victory. Things, however, would have been different had Warne held on to a chance offered by Gayle when he had scored just 13. The catch at mid-off, off Johan Botha, went through Warne’s fingers and into the boundary. A player of Gayle’s caliber doesn’t need a second invitation. He brushed away the scare and went on to smash the bowlers all over the park in his own carefree way. Clearly, it wasn’t Warne’s day.
The Royals skipper, however, did bowl well and even managed to pick up Dilshan’s wicket after the Lankan captain had scored a 24-ball 38 in his last IPL match of this season. He could have got Kohli too, had Ajinkya Rahane held on to a diving catch. Kohli remained unbeaten on 39.
Earlier, Rajasthan Royals got one of their best opening partnerships in this edition of the IPL, before things went wrong. Shane Watson and Rahul Dravid matched each other shot for shot, with the Aussie showing signs of producing a cracker. They raced to 73 without loss by the 10th over, but then disaster struck. Watson, who had hit two sixes in his 34 by then, went for another one and holed out to AB de Villiers at long-off. Two balls later, Dravid was walking back too, with bowler S Aravind managing to hold on to a return catch. Suddenly, Royals had two new batsmen out there and Aravind, who had been quite costly till then, was the unlikely hero.
Botha and Rahane kept the run-rate high, till a mix-up resulted in the latter being run out. Aravind was again in the act, getting Botha to edge one to wicketkeeper Arun Karthik. By the 16th over, the Royals innings was falling apart.
Ross Taylor’s departure made it worse for them, caught in the deep while going for a big one. Ashok Menaria too went that way. There was little that Abhishek Raut and Dishant Yagnik could do in the death overs.