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Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Rajasthan Royals vs Otago Volts, M18 - Report: CLT20-2013


The Rajasthan Royals proved just why the Sawai Mansingh Stadium is considered their fortress. Despite being rocked in the middle of what should have been a regulation run-chase, the Royals, riding on the back of contrasting half-centuries from Ajinkya Rahane and Brad Hodge, defeated the Otago Volts by four wickets. The result means the Royals are through to the semi-finals, while the Volts will have to await the result of the Mumbai Indians’ match against Perth Scorchers to learn their fate. (Also Read: Rajasthan Royals vs Otago Volts, M18 - Stats Highlights: CLT20-2013)

After holding the visitors down to a modest 139, the Royals were off to a brisk start with Rahane and Rahul Dravid adding 49 runs in 6.3 overs. The partnership was broken when Dravid attempted to square-cut the left-arm spinner Nick Beard, but was brilliantly caught by Nathan McCullum at point. (Also Read: Ajinkya Rahane: I Wanted To Stay Till The End)

The Volts bowlers continued to make inroads into the Royals batting line-up despite Rahane playing a fluent innings at one end. Sanju Samson was second to go when he dragged one from Jimmy Neesham onto his stumps attempting to dab one down to thirdman. Shane Watson and Stuart Binny perished in the space of four deliveries when they reached out to play through the off-side and ended up edging to the wicketkeeper.
After the flurry of wickets, Rahane found an able ally in the experienced Brad Hodge. The pair steadied the innings with a 44-run partnership, with Hodge playing the enforcer. After bringing up his half-century in the fifteenth over, Rahane attempted to hit Neesham over the top but mistimed one and holed out to the man at mid-off; he made 52 from 48 balls.

There was a minor scare for the Royals as James Faulkner attempted to go for glory but had his stumps uprooted. However, the experienced Hodge ensured the Royals maintained their unbeaten record at home. Despite the required run-rate breaching the 10-run mark at one point, Hodge maintained his calm and brought all his experience to the fore. He hit five boundaries and three sixes in his 23-ball 52 and helped his team past the finish line with five balls remaining. Kevon Cooper, who picked up two boundaries, kept him company at the end.

Neesham was the pick of the bowlers for the Volts, returning with figures of 3/22, while Nick Beard and Neil Wagner picked up one wicket and two wickets respectively.

Earlier in the evening, Royals’ skipper Rahul Dravid won the toss and put the Volts in. It was an inspired selection to include Rahul Shukla in the Royals’ XI, in place of Vikramjeet Malik. And the 23-year-old justified his inclusion by breaking the backbone of the Volts batting line-up. 

Introduced into the attack in the fourth over, Shukla found his way through Hamish Rutherford’s defence and had his stumps rearranged with his first delivery. Two balls later, he got one to skid off the surface, jag back and rap the dangerous Brendon McCullum in front of the stumps. Two balls later, he deceived Derek de Boorder with a short delivery, found the top edge of his bat and gleefully accepted the return catch.

Shane Watson then struck a blow when he had Neil Broom top-edging a pull to be caught by the wicketkeeper. At 21 for four, the Otago Volts were in all kinds of trouble, before Ryan ten Doeschate and Jimmy Neesham revived the innings with a 53-run stand. Neesham was the more enterprising of the two batsmen, hitting four boundaries and a six before he was dismissed for 32. ten Doeschate fell soon after when he failed to pick a flipper by Pravin Tambe and was caught plumb in front of the stumps; he made 26 at from 27 balls.

Cameos Nathan McCullum (28 from 20 balls) and Ian Butler (25 from 18 balls) in the final quarter of the innings helped the Otago Volts finish their 20 overs at a competitive 139/7.

For the Royals, Shukla was the pick of the bowlers, returning with figures of three for 23 from his four overs (which included a maiden over too). The 42-year-old Tambe, who was athletic on the field, impressed with the ball too, finishing with figures of one for 17 from his four overs. Kevon Cooper (2/33) and Shane Watson (1/24) too chipped in.

Trivia: James Faulkner and Rahul Shukla were both clocked bowled in excess of 140 kph. Faulkner’s fastest delivery was recorded at 142.2 kph, while Shukla’s quickest delivery was 140.2 kph.

Man of the Match: Rahul Shukla for his three-wicket haul

Rahul Shukla (RR), Man of the Match: His plan was to bowl as well as he could, and he was pretty relaxed. Captain backs me a lot and I bowl well because of it, (Rahul interjects) so he is going to get a lot more bowling. Very happy to be in the side.

Rahul Dravid, Rajasthan Royals captain: In the end, you know, it got pretty nerve-wracking in those last five overs. Incredible innings from Hodgy there to get us over the line. I think there is a lot of belief in our group and a good environment among the group and I think the young guys who come in know they are backed and that they are in the team for specific reasons. Not a surprise as he has specific skills so its about building confidence and creating a good environment around them so they can contribute and play. When he bats like that, why should Hodge bat up the order? There are not many people who can do what he does, and I haven't seen many people who can bat at the end of the innings under pressure like he does. I think we are a well organised unit. The unbeaten record is not that important. I just hope we can keep it for one more game. In the end we want to keep the momentum going and we knew in the back of our mind that even if we did qualify for the semi finals, then we would get an extra day off before the final. So its nice to get the home game (semi-final), and then have a day off before the final. It's nice to get over the line

Brendon McCullum, Otago Volts captain: Yeah from the position we were in early on (21 for 4), I thought we did a really good job to get to 140, and especially with the ball, we showed some good fighting abilities. The way Hodge played at the end was brilliant. It didn't take me by surprise, I thought he (Shukla) bowled a couple of good deliveries, he had some nice pace about him. Three wickets in one over, and between him and Hodgy, it proved a match winning performance. yeah we will be looking at the Mumbai-Perth game (closely). We didn't grab it (the opportunity) so whatever happens tomorrow will happens. But if we do find ourselves out, we will be grateful for what we have done in this tournament.

Brad Hodge, Rajasthan Royals batsman: It is never that easy. It's a bit of calculation and mathematics. Trying to figure out the maths involved and work out the boundaries, and get lucky as well with some getting over the fence. Yeah we got ourselves into a bit of a hole, and we sort of let them back into the game, but that is the quality of the side as we have the confidence to take on any side. We were trying to work out what they were doing as well, doing a little bit of preempting on our part. Its also important to know which bowlers are left and picking your moments.



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