KP on fire for Challengers
Jaipur - Kevin Pietersen socked a 24-ball half-century as the Bangalore Royal Challengers eased to a five-wicket victory over the Rajasthan Royals, thanks to the outstanding efforts of their bowlers, in their Indian Premier League match in Jaipur on Wednesday.
A near-perfect display in the field by the Bangalore Royal Challengers restricted the Rajasthan Royals to just 130 for six, and it was Pietersen who dominated the run-chase as he bludgeoned a brilliant 62 off just 29 balls.
The victory lifted the Challengers into second place on the log, two points ahead of the teams placed third to sixth, while Rajasthan slipped closer towards the cellar as their run-rate dipped to just 0.02 more than that of the Deccan Chargers in sixth place.
Even though Bangalore gave five wickets away fairly cheaply in their chase, Pietersen's classy innings ensured they were never in danger and they won with 26 balls to spare.
Pietersen took control after Jacques Kallis had been dismissed for a duck in the second over, the great all-rounder helping a ball from the skiddy Kamran Khan back on to his stumps.
Opening batsman Manish Pandey (14) was deceived by a Siddharth Trivedi slower ball, but a partnership of 60 in six overs between Pietersen and Robin Uthappa (26) would see Bangalore to the brink of victory.
Uthappa was given out stumped by TV umpire SK Tarapore off Shane Warne, despite replays showing the batsman had a minute part of his foot over the line and when Pietersen was run out in the following over, there was a tiny chance of Rajasthan snatching victory.
But the batting depth of Bangalore saw them home, Virat Kohli scoring 14, Ross Taylor 10 not out and Rahul Dravid five not out in an obviously crucial victory.
Rajasthan had earlier won the toss and elected to bat first, but were soon under pressure as Michael Lumb committed the sin of getting himself run out for nine in the third over. Naman Ojha had dabbed Vinay Kumar to short third man, Lumb came charging for the quick single but was sent back and Kallis stayed composed and lobbed the ball back to Vinay.
A brilliant bouncer from Vinay then had Amit Paunikar caught behind for a first-ball duck before Pankaj Singh, a bustling, strapping seamer, bowled a top-class wicket-maiden over, accounting for the dangerous Ojha for seven.
Dale Steyn is in prime form at the moment and he conceded just a single off the seventh over before Kallis, who is so useful on two-paced pitches, bowled an excellent spell of three overs for 10 runs.
In his second over, Kallis claimed the vital wicket of in-form Australian Shane Watson for 22, Pietersen - the only fielder in the circle on the leg-side - lunging low to his right at forward square-leg to take a sharp catch.
The full glare of the desperate Rajasthan home crowd proved too much for Abhishek Jhunjhunwala as he struggled to 13 off 22 balls before captain Anil Kumble and bowler Pankaj combined to send him back to the dugout.
Steyn then produced a superb thunderbolt to bowl key man Yusuf Pathan, who became the eighth batsman to go to 1000 IPL runs, for just 11 as Rajasthan slumped to 72 for six in the 14th over.
Australian Adam Voges, with a run-a-ball 28 not out, and Abhishek Raut, who slammed 32 not out off 20 balls, ensured that the Royals would at least go down fighting.
Steyn was inspired, taking one for 15 in his four overs, while Kallis took one for 19 in his stint.
Pankaj finished with two for 27, conceding 15 runs in the 17th over.
Teams: Rajasthan Royals:
MJ Lumb, NV Ojha (wk), AG Paunikar, SR Watson, YK Pathan, AA Jhunjhunwala, AS Raut, AC Voges, Kamran Khan, SK Warne (capt), SK Trivedi
Royal Challengers Bangalore:
JH Kallis, MK Pandey, KP Pietersen, RV Uthappa (wk), LRPL Taylor, V Kohli, R Dravid, R Vinay Kumar, Pankaj Singh, A Kumble (capt), DW Steyn