Steely Royals steal a last ball thriller

Published: Tuesday, May 27, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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Jaipur: Mumbai seamer Dilhara Fernando, a veteran of over 100 ODIs and 30 Tests, lost his nerves but the two young Jaipur lads Neeraj Patel and Ravindra Jadeja kept their cool and collected 15 runs in last six balls to snatch a thrilling five-wicket win for Rajasthan Royals in their IPL league tie at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium here on Monday.

Chasing a competitive 146-run victory target, Rajasthan Royals enetred the final over needing 15 runs to win after Neeraj and Jadeja came up with extraordinary effort to pull their side out of the dumps.


Mumbai skipper Tendulkar turned to the experienced Fernando, who had bowled a tidy first spell, to deliver the all-important last over, and he restricted Neeraj and Jadeja to four runs in first two balls before Neeraj dispatched the third ball to the gallery over long-on. Now the equation read five off three balls. Royals' batters took two runs in as many balls leaving the equation to three off one ball. Fernando sprayed it wide before the Royals' batters managed two runs off the extra ball to spark wild celebrations in the dugout and stands.

It was an inept show from Fernando. He dropped a sitter offered by Pathan early on in the innings but that didn't proved costly for Mumbai as Pathan was packed off cheaply in the next over. The Lankan seamer sprayed the all-important last ball conceding a extra run and ball as though this wasn't enough he came up with a sloppy work in the field off next ball that cost Mumbai the game.

Neeraj was unconquered on 29-ball 40 while India Colts' all-rounder Jadeja remained unbeaten on 23. The duo forged a match-winning 69-run stand in just 8 overs.

This victory meant Rajasthan Royals maintained clean slate on home turf (7 of 7) and retain top slot in the IPL points chart. Daredevils with 15 points from 14 games make it to the last four round while Mumbai Indians (12pts in 13 ties) will have to vie with Chennai Kings (14 points from 13 games) for the one-off semis spot up for grab.

The local outfit sans the in-form opener Graeme Smith, chasing a modest but competitive target on a two-paced wicket got off to a shaky start losing Akmal and Yusuf Pathan cheaply. Akmal started off with a bang belting Pollock for couple of boundaries before being dismissed in a freakish run out.

The Pakistani gloveman committed a fundamental error in not grounding the bat. Pathan looked impatient before a ill-timed heave off Fernando flew straight to Nehra, who fumbled but held on to it in the second attempt at mid-off as Royals were reduced to 32/2 in the sixth over.

Asnodkar, Watson and Kaif got the start but failed to build on it as Royals lost the momentum mid-way thro' before the young turks Neeraj and Jadeja played the innings of their lives in pressure cooker situation to see their side home.

Earlier, the skiddy Sohail Tanvir and wily Siddarth Trivedi rattled Mumbai Indians mixing up the yorkers, slower ones and good short-pitched stuff in a measured way.

The skiddy Sohail Tanvir ran amok in the final overs to finish his spell with a creditable 4/14. Wily Siddarth Trivedi (2/31) bowled intelligently mixing up the slowers ones and yorkers with good short-pitched stuff.

Mumbai openers Sachin Tendulkar (30 in 34) and Sanath Jayasuriya (38 off 37) batted sensibly on a two-paced and laid a solid platform for their batters to come who wasted it with some inept batting.

Abhishek Nayar stroked a 18-ball 25 and Takawale's pyrotechnics in the last over ensured Mumbai a fighting 145/7 despite a middle-order collapse.

The duo with their sea of experience and cricketing acumen gauged the bounce and pace on a sluggish pitch pretty early and curbed their natural instinct to attack and instead were content in grafting and playing it with straight bat. The veterans of over 500 internationals forged a steady 71-run stand in 11 overs.


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