Rajasthan Royals opener, Ajinkya Rahane, made his mark in the 2012 edition of the IPL, scoring 98 runs against the Kings XI Punjab.
With some fresh young talent, the Royals, were looking to make an early impact on the new season, after finishing sixth in last year’s tournament.
Kings XI Punjab captain, Adam Gilchrist, won the toss and elected to field first, stating that he felt the pitch was not going to change much during the match.
Rajasthan captain, Rahul Dravid, said that he would have fielded first if he won the toss, but, did not seem to bothered by having to bat first.
Playing in front of their home crowd in Jaipur, Rajasthan, were determined to make a strong start to the game.
Openers Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane, provided a scorching start to the Royals innings, with an unbelievable 77 run partnership, with a run rate of 8.10.
Most of the partnership the pair put together was dominated by Rahane, before Dravid, perished on 28 runs off 24 balls, hitting three boundaries in the process.
Rahane continued on with his attack and quickly brought up his half century in 37 deliveries with a cracking boundary, even though he lost another partner in Ashok Menaria, who failed to trouble the scorers with his innings.
Australian batsman, Brad Hodge, joined Rahane at the crease, and together the pair blitzed their way to a 75 run partnership, at a rate of 11.53.
Rahane, continued to dominate the Kings XI Punjab bowling attack, while Hodge looked to work the runs and give most of the strike to Rahane during the partnership.
However, with Rahane on 95, Hodge, was dismissed on 21 from 16 balls, in which he smacked a boundary and a huge six.
Rahane, could only manage a further three runs, before he departed, falling two agonising runs short of what would have been the first century of the 2012 IPL.
Rahane’s innings of 98 came off just 66 balls, and included an astounding 16 boundaries and one six, as he completely destroyed the Kings XI Punjab bowling lineup.
Rahane, was awarded the Man of the Match honours for his scintillating innings, and said: “I was batting well even in practice games so wanted to continue. I believe in myself and if you are a good batsman, you will play well irrespective of the format. Ball was coming on well and I think it was a team effort.”
Owais Shah and Kevon Cooper, gave the Royals a boost towards the end of their innings, as Shah remained undefeated on 14 from eight deliveries, during which he thumped two boundaries, while Cooper, made 11 runs off just three balls, hitting one four and a massive six as well.
James Faulkner led all Kings XI Punjab bowlers with two wickets, while Piyush Chawla and Harmeet Singh chipped in with a wicket each, as they and the rest of the bowling attack failed to contain the wrath of Rahane, which ended Rajasthan’s innings on 191.
Facing a mammoth total of 192 to win, the Kings XI Punjab, failed to make a good start to their innings, as openers Adam Gilchrist and Paul Valthaty, who made a huge name for himself in last year’s IPL, posted just 36 runs for the first wicket partnership.
However, Gilchrist and Valthaty were both dismissed early into their innings, which started a collapse in the batting lineup, as Shaun Marsh soon became the next victim of some superb Rajasthan bowling.
The middle order batsmen failed to curb the onslaught of the Rajasthan bowlers, and when being reduced to 86 for the fall of five wickets, Punjab, were looking less and less likely to get anywhere near their target.
Australian batsman, David Hussey, together with Mandeep Singh, put up a quick 25 run partnership, before Hussey himself succumbed to the excellent Rajasthan bowling.
Mandeep Singh and Bipul Sharma, worked well together to post up a 37 run partnership, at a run rate of 8.53, before, Sharma, was the next victim to fall on 18, as he tried to increase the scoring rate for the Kings XI.
Singh, was also dismissed soon after on 34 off 25 deliveries, in which he hammered five boundaries, as he just could not handle the pressure that was placed on him from the Royals and the growing required run rate.
With more quick strikes, the Rajasthan Royals, soon found themselves amongst the lower order batsmen, and even though quite a few runs were given away, the bowlers still ensured that the Royals won by 31 runs.
Kevon Cooper was the bowler who confused most of the Punjab batsmen, as he claimed four wickets to his name, but, he was well supported by Ankeet Chavan, who took two wickets, while Siddharth Trivedi and Amit Singh picked up a wicket each.
Kings XI Punjab captain, Adam Gilchrist, felt as if his team gave away too many runs, but, also complemented Rahane on his outstanding innings.
“We were outplayed, I got the toss wrong, Rahane played a beautiful innings. 20-30 runs more than what I thought we should have conceded. There were some positives, not saying it as a cliche, but even Rahul agrees that we had some positives coming out for us,” he said.
Rajasthan captain, Rahul Dravid, was pleased to get his IPL 2012 campaign off to a winning start, and said: “Fantastic night for us, good to start this way, especially for the youngsters to do well. Rahane has worked really hard after being out of the Indian team.”
With Rajasthan making an extremely bold statement against the Kings XI Punjab, they look to continue their domination when going up against the Kolkata Knight Riders on April 8, while Punjab on the other hand, will look to regroup and hopefully gain a win when they play against the Pune Warriors on April 8 as well.