(Cricinfo) We have moved on from the IPL to the Champions League T20 qualifiers and from there to Champions League proper, but some things haven’t changed. Rajasthan Royals stay unbeaten at home in 2013. Poor shots keep making games interesting. And ordinary umpiring keeps playing a significant role.
After an early shower delayed the start by 15 minutes, Royals asked the IPL champions to bat first on a pitch with fresh grass, and kept them down to 142 thanks to Vikramjeet Malik, who possibly wouldn’t have been playing had Siddharth Trivedi not been suspended for one year for not reporting an approach by bookies. Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Coulter-Nile, the latter playing in the absence of Lasith Malinga, put Royals batsmen through a stern test, but were frustrated by Sanju Samson having escaped a plumb lbw when on one.
Samson went on to become the youngest player to score a fifty in the CLT20. More importantly, it helped Royals home. The knock wasn’t as convincing as the scorebook will show: even his fifty came up with a massive outside edge on the heave, he was beaten next ball, and then – clearly out of place against fast, short bowling – gloved one over the keeper. Then again, it was hardly a night where things were what they seemed to be.
Mumbai’s team sheet slated the comeback man Sachin Tendulkar at No. 4, Rahul Dravid said his side needed no spinner, and the grass on the pitch promised high and consistent bounce. Tendulkar came out to open, part-time spinner Ashok Menaria bowled the first over, and Malik bowled a nasty grubber in the second over to trap Dwayne Smith lbw.
Mumbai hardly looked comfortable against the movement, losing wickets regularly until Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard added 52 for the fifth wicket. Rohit, though, edged the returning Watson a ball after hitting him for a six, leaving Pollard with a lot to do. Pollard threatened to do the lot, but in the last over of the innings – when a 20 from him looked possible – he edged a wide half-volley through to the keeper.
Coulter-Nile hit a six and a four to give Mumbai some momentum going into the second innings, and got lucky with the ball too when Rahul Dravid cut a wide ball straight to point. Johnson wasn’t as lucky when he had Samson dead in front to a 150kmph swinger. Bruce Oxenford was the only man who didn’t agree. Samson and Ajinkya Rahane weathered that testing spell, and then targeted the two Mumbai spinners.
Pragyan Ojha was welcomed with a six over extra cover, and Harbhajan Singh was punished every time he bowled short and flat. Just when it looked like the two could finish the game off, Rahane ended the 74-run partnership with an ugly swipe. Samson continued his merry ride – he should consider taking it all the way to a casino – until a Pollard short ball got too big for him but wasn’t fast enough to take the top edge behind the stumps over the infield.