Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane got Rajasthan off to a quick start as the Royals defeated Pune Warriors by five wickets and a ball to spare.
IPL: Rajasthan Royals right the ship at Pune Warriors India
On a batsman's wicket at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Sunday in Jaipur, the Rajasthan Royals held their nerve to go past Pune Warriors India by five wickets with a ball to spare and boost their hopes of reaching the Indian Premier League play-offs.
Chasing 179, Rajasthan's Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane got off to a flying start, putting on 98 in a partnership that was neither unnaturally hurried nor especially watchful.
Dravid, in particular, took on the bowlers, as Rahane settled into the role of second fiddle.
Dravid made the bowlers bowl to his strength as he played most of his shots in the vee between long-off and long-on. Dravid left his crease to hit Rahul Sharma for a straight six and bring up his third fifty of the season.
Dravid failed to get completely underneath a length ball from Mitchell Marsh and was caught at long off and soon Shane Watson played on to Wayne Parnell.
However, Aaron Finch failed to grab a difficult chance at short mid-wicket when Rahane was on 41, and that proved be the decisive phase in the game. Rahane, like his captain, reached his half-century with a six over extra cover.
Rahul Sharma took a smart catch at long-leg to send Rahane back for 67.
But an unbeaten 32 from Stuart Binney held Rajasthan together and saw them home.
Earlier, Robin Uthappa and Finch had set the tone for the evening in a 97-run opening wicket stand for Pune.
They hit 10 fours in the Power Play overs to stun the home crowd. It was their fifth stand of 50 runs or more this season, and was easily the most free flowing one.
In the 12th over Finch was bowled, trying to play an off-cutter from Kevon Cooper against the line. Yuvraj Singh played a few copybook shots of his, but trying to force the pace of play, was caught in the cow corner shortly.
The first half of the evening belonged to a resurgent Uthappa.
Uthappa's inning was not all about slam-bang hitting.
He read the game situation well and in patches, lowered his gears to play the role of an accumulator. However, soon after bringing up his second half-century, with consecutive boundaries off Siddharth Trivedi, he fell to a casual piece of play when he looked set for more.
Trying to steal a sharp single in the 16th over, after Mitchell Marsh was hit on the pads, he failed to beat the throw from Sanju Samson, the wicketkeeper, and was short.
Pune's innings lost momentum in the final overs and the total of 178 was not enough once Dravid and Rahane had got going.
Sidhanta Patnaik is a writer at Wisden India.