Ross Taylor hit a crucial 47 not out to steer the Rajasthan Royals to a thrilling six-wicket win over the Pune Warriors in the Indian Premier League on Sunday.
The New Zealander cracked two sixes and four boundaries in his 35-ball knock as Shane Warne’s Rajasthan achieved a 144-run target with three balls to spare for their fifth victory in nine matches of the Twenty20 tournament.
In Sunday’s other match, Suresh Raina smashed a 35-ball 59 and South Africa paceman Albie Morkel grabbed three wickets to help the Chennai Super Kings post a 19-run win over the Deccan Chargers.
Deccan were 90-1 following an explosive 56 from opener Sunny Sohal, before finishing on 146-8 chasing a 166-run target. Sohal hit four sixes and six fours in his 30-ball knock.
Raina added 60 for the second wicket with Australia’s Michael Hussey (46) and 58 for the next with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (21), before Morkel (19) hit three successive sixes off paceman Ishant Sharma in the closing stages.
Rajasthan top the 10-team league table with 11 points, followed by Kolkata (10), Mumbai (10), Chennai (10), Bangalore (9), Deccan (6), Delhi (6), Punjab (6), Kochi (6) and Pune (4).
Rajasthan were earlier struggling at 92-4 before Taylor and Ajinkya Rahane (15 not out) guided them home with an unbeaten 52-run stand for the fifth wicket.
Leg-spinner Rahul Sharma put Rajasthan under pressure when he took three of the first four wickets, including those of Rahul Dravid (18) and South Africa’s Johan Botha (12), but Taylor, dropped on 31 by Nathan McCullum in the deep, shattered Pune’s hopes.
Pune were comfortably placed at 66-1 after eight overs following impressive knocks from Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey, before losing their way. Uthappa top-scored with a 21-ball 35 and Pandey made 30 off 31 balls.
Uthappa, who hit leg-spinner Warne for four boundaries, but also survived three confident appeals, eventually fell to the same bowler when he was caught by wicketkeeper Dishant Yagnik while attempting a reverse-sweep.
Pune’s chances of posting a competitive total after being put in to bat receded when they lost two wickets in the 13th over.
Skipper Yuvraj Singh (7) was run out backing up, while Pandey was caught at deep mid-wicket by Taylor off seamer Siddharth Trivedi, who emerged the most successful bowler with two for 28.