Monday, May 12, 2008


Rajasthan Royals
Rajasthan Royals and the Chennai Super Kings are quickly establishing themselves as title contenders of the inaugural Indian Premier League which took off spectacularly just under a month ago in Bangalore.

The Royals led by former Australian star, Shane Warne, re-grouped after their loss to the Super Kings late last week to get back to the top of the table after their comfortable three-wicket win over the Delhi Dare Devils in Jaipur on Sunday.

They have a two-point lead over the Super Kings, who experienced a bleak period last week where they lost three matches on the trot and who edged out the Kings XI Punjab in a thriller at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday evening
Both teams have played nine matches, the Rajasthan Royals have 14 points while the Super Kings have 12.

The Kolkata Knight Riders, who went five matches without a win, have also bounced back. They recorded two superb wins in the last two games, they beat the Royal Challengers by five runs just before the weekend and on Sunday they turned in one of their better performances when they beat the Deccan Chargers by 23 runs in Hyderabad to move into fifth place on the table.

Sourav Ganguly led from the front as he scored a blistering 57-ball 91 with five 6s and 11 4s to help his side to a match-winning 204-4 off 20 overs.

Australian David Hussey also got among the runs, scoring 57 off 29 balls with three 6s and four 4s to boost the total.


The Deccan Chargers, who seem to have lost the plot even through they have some talented players for this format of the game in Adam Gilchrist, Herschelle Gibbs and Scott Styris, were restricted to 181-7 in their 20 overs.

Only Venugopal Rao, who blasted a 42-ball 71 with four 4s and two 6s at the bottom of their innings, and Rohit Sharma, who scored 33, were able to come to terms with the Knight Riders bowling.

Ashok Dinda was the stand-out in the Knight Riders attack with 3-33 while Ganguly, who was named the Man of the Match afterwards, bagged 2-25.

In the later game Warne's Rajasthan Royals were given a rude shock in the penultimate over, bowled by the Australian, when Farvez Maharoof slammed 27 off the over to take the Delhi Dare Devils from 122-6 to 149-7 in just six balls.

But in the end they overcame the 156-7 set by the Dare Devils and ended with 159-7 to sneak a three-wicket win and remain unbeaten at home in Jaipur.

Rao's strikes were just the boost that Dare Devils needed at the time as they looked doomed at that stage of the encounter.

Those mighty swings, he struck fours sixes off Warne's over, at least gave his side an outside chance of clinching a win.

But another Australian Shane Watson, who has earlier taken two vital wickets, scored 74 off 40 balls came to the party for the Rajasthan Royals at the crucial moment.

Graeme Smith and Watson were involved in a 71-runs stand which helped. Smith scored 24.

The Kings XI Punjab, who suffered a setback before the weekend when they were beaten by four wickets by the Super Kings, meet the struggling Royals Challengers in Chandigarh today.

They are favoured to win the game as the Royals Challengers have struggled all the way to find a good combination for this format even though they have some of the best players in the world in their squad.

Monday: Kings XI Punjab v Royal Challengers, Chandigarh. TV: 4.20pm on SS2 and CSN.

Tuesday: Kolkata Knight Riders v Delhi Dare Devils, Eden Gardens, Kolkata. TV: 4.20pm on SS2 and CSN.

Wednesday: Mumbai Indians Chennai Super Kings, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai. TV: 4.20pm on SS2 and CSN.

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