Mumbai: Shane Watson smashed a breath-taking unbeaten 47-ball 89-run knock as Rajasthan Royals (RR) provided the perfect send off to their retiring captain Shane Warne by thrashing Mumbai Indians by 10 wickets in their last IPL match here on Friday.
After restricting Mumbai Indians to a modest 133 for five, Rajasthan rode on Watson’s blitzkrieg to overhaul the target in just 13.1 overs and prolong Mumbai’s wait for a confirmed berth in the play-off.
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It was a stunning display of stroke-play by Watson as out-of-contention Rajasthan got their acts together in time to give a befitting farewell to their inspiration captain Warne.
With this defeat, Mumbai now has 16 points and will take on Kolkata Knight Riders on 22 May in their final round-robin IPL match for a place in the play-off.
Kolkata too are at 16 points, while Kings XI Punjab have 14 points in their kitty with one match to go.
Royals have finished their engagements with 13 points.
Chennai Super Kings, with 18 points, and Royal Challengers Bangalore (17) have already qualified for the four-team play-offs and are in the top two positions on the table.
It was Watson’s day all the way as after grabbing three wickets for 19 runs, the burly Australian simply tore the home team’s attack and struck six sixes and nine fours.
Rahul Dravid, who started slowly before opening out, played the ideal foil to his 29-year-old team-mate, named the man of the match, while making an unbeaten 43 in 32 balls with the help of six fours.
The burly Aussie pulled the ball ferociously and also drove it with power when the opportunity arose and treated all the bowlers with equal disdain. Watson’s pyrotechnics saw Malinga –- MI’s pride and the highest wicket taker in IPL4, bled 42 runs in his four overs.
Earlier, electing to bat Rohit Sharma cracked his third half century in the season to lift Mumbai from a dawdling start.
Sharma, who came to the crease when the home team had slumped to 17 for two after four overs, slammed five fours and a six in his 47-ball 58.
He was involved in two fruitful stands – 48 runs with captain Sachin Tendulkar who made an unimpressive 31 in 35 balls and 53 runs in 39 balls for the fourth wicket with Kieron Pollard (20 in 18 balls) - that upped the scoring rate.
Watson emerged as the pick of the bowlers for Royals with a haul of three for 19, including the first two, while left arm spinner Ankit Chavan bowled very well and was not fortunate to gain the wicket of Tendulkar in his four overs. Mumbai’s performance was an improvement over their pathetic 94 for eight at Jaipur in their first leg clash last month which they had lost, but the total was still well below their own expectations.
The home team struggled to get going after opting to bat first. Royals opened with left arm Chavan and Watson and kept the duo on right through the power play overs at the end of which the hosts were a poor 26 for two.
But any hopes Mumbai had of defending the meagre total evaporated once Watson started the mayhem with a boundary hit off Munaf Patel off the second ball of the innings.
The Australian then banished Harbhajan Singh from the attack by slamming the feisty off spinner for a couple of huge sixes into the stands at mid wicket.
Tendulkar brought in Malinga into the attack to stop the carnage but Watson greeted the Sri Lankan pacer with a thumping drive down the ground to the long on fence.
Malinga retorted with a bumper that hit Watson on his neck as he took evasive action and very nearly gave a catch off the next ball with a mistimed pull shot but because of the field restrictions the ball fell in no man’s land and sped to the ropes.
The Aussie later escaped a run out effort by Harbhajan Singh who missed hitting the stumps at the striker’s end with Watson scrambling to reach the crease.
Having escaped on 29, Watson went berserk against Malinga and pulled the sling-arm bowler for two fours interspersed with a six in the bowler’s second over to help Royals end up with 52 without loss after the power play period of six overs.
A cover drive off Dhawal Kulkarni helped Watson complete his maiden 50 in the tournament this season off only 30 balls and laced with three sixes and six fours. He pulled the medium pacer for his fourth six in the same over.
Dravid, till then the silent partner in the rollicking stand, also stepped on the gas by smashing Harbhajan Singh for three fours in the off spinner’s second over to maintain the blistering run-rate.
Watson swung Malinga for his fifth six backward of square to hold complete sway over the proceedings as Royals powered their way past the 100 mark in the 11th over. Watson continued in the same vein till the Royals reached the victory target.