Ajinkya Rahane struck a scintillating 67 while Rahul Dravid produced an age-defying innings to maintain Rajasthan Royals' impeccable 'home' record as the hosts defeated Pune Warriors by five wickets in a thrilling Pepsi Indian Premier League match, in Jaipur on Sunday. The win today propelled Rajasthan to fourth position in the league table with 14 points from 11 matches while Pune Warriors suffered their seventh successive loss in the tournament with no chances of them making the play-offs.
By the virtue of this win, Royals also exacted a 'sweet revenge' on their opponents, having tasted defeat on the previous occasion when the two sides met in Pune on April 11. The match went down to the wire as Royals lost some quick wickets after the second strategic time-out was taken but Stuart Binny's unbeaten 13-ball 32 ensured that 'Fort SMS' wasn't breached. Royals registered their sixth win at home with one ball to spare. Chasing a challenging target of 179 runs, Rahane and Dravid (58, 40 balls, 9x4, 6x1) provided their team a solid start, adding 98 runs for the opening-wicket partnership in just 11.5 overs. Both made short work of the Pune bowlers and enthralled a sell-out crowd at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium with their vast repertoire of stroke-play.
Dravid was the more aggressive of the two as he cut and drove Pune bowlers to reach his third fifty in the tournament in just 36 balls with a straight six over long-on off spinner Rahul Sharma. It was a treat to watch Dravid of old as he matched the pace of the Twenty20 cricket with utmost ease. Rahane played the role of second fiddle to perfection as he seemed content giving strike to one of the finest batsmen in the world. Dravid's knock came to an end when he was holed out at long-off by Mitchell Marsh off Angelo Mathews. Soon after, Rahane brought up his fifty with a six too over extra-cover as Royals made a confident surge towards victory.