Ross Taylor hit a crucial 47 not out to steer Rajasthan Royals to a thrilling six-wicket win over Pune Warriors in an Indian Premier League match 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 another match, Suresh Raina smashed a 35-ball 59 and South African paceman Albie Morkel grabbed three wickets to help Chennai Super Kings post a 19-run win over Deccan Chargers.
Deccan were 90-1 following an explosive 56 from opener Sunny Sohal before finishing at 146-8 chasing a 166-run target. He hit four sixes and six fours in his 30-ball knock.
Raina added 60 for the second wicket with Australian 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 (nine), Deccan (six), Delhi (six), Punjab (six), Kochi (six) and Pune (four).
Rajasthan were earlier struggling at 92-4 before Taylor and Ajinkya Rahane (15 not out) guided their team home with an unfinished 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 African Johan Botha (12).
But Taylor, dropped on 31 by compatriot Nathan McCullum in the deep, shattered Pune’s hopes with his big-hitting.
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 leg-before 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 (seven) 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 2-28.
Pune Warriors 143-7 in 20 overs (R. Uthappa 35, M. Pandey 30, M. Manhas 24; S. Trivedi 2-28) lost to Rajasthan Royals 144-4 in 19.3 overs (R. Taylor 47 not out, A. Menaria 29; R. Sharma 3-13) by six wickets.
Chennai Super Kings 165-5 in 20 overs (S. Raina 59, M. Hussey 46, MS Dhoni 21; P. Ojha 2-26) beat Deccan Chargers 146-8 in 20 overs (S. Sohal 56; A. Morkel 3-38, S. Jakati 2-23. D. Bollinger 2-26) by 19 runs.