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Stuart Binny celebrates after scoring the winning runs, Rajasthan Royals v Pune Warriors, IPL 2013, Jaipur, May 5, 2013

The Sawai Mansingh Stadium continued to remain a fortress for Rajasthan Royals, though it came close to being breached by Pune Warriors during a high-scoring clash on Sunday. Royals moved to No. 4 in the IPL points table, their openers Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane guiding a challenging chase with half-centuries, and Stuart Binny and Sanju Samson chipping in with crucial cameos to help sneak their team home in the final over. The sixth straight win at home for Royals was a seventh consecutive loss for Warriors, who need to get their bowling in order to spoil a party or two this season.


The dew was a factor in Jaipur, but Rahul Sharma’s long-hops in a game-changing 17th over could not be blamed on the environment alone. With 43 needed off 24 balls, he gifted a short ball outside off to Binny, who promptly slashed it past point. Two more short deliveries later, Binny pulled the next one over the deep midwicket boundary. Samson faced his first ball with 28 needed off 16, and began imperiously, showing no signs of nerves, driving Wayne Parnell on the up and then running him past third man for successive boundaries. Binny took charge, dispatching a length ball from Bhuvneshwar Kumar for six in the penultimate over and squeezing Parnell past mid-on for four to seal victory when one run was needed off two balls.


Dravid surprised a few by walking out to open instead of Shane Watson during Royals’ chase of 179, but took the lead in delivering a brisk start that was the foundation for his team’s successful overhaul of Warriors’ score. He punched Bhuvneshwar for two boundaries through point in the opening over, then targeted Krishnakant Upadhyaya for three fours to three different parts of the ground. The best shot of his innings was an inside-out drive for four off Angelo Mathews, and he had a straight six up his sleeve off Rahul Sharma shortly before holing out for 58. It was part of a 98-run opening stand with Rahane, in 71 balls.


Rahane will feel a little hard done to have missed out on a place in the Champions Trophy squad, and his latest knock ended an unsatisfactory run of scores over the last few matches for him. He played the supporting role to his captain, but took charge in the 14th over off Mathews, helping snatch 21, including two fours and a sweetly-timed six over extra cover. Not one to derive a lot of thrill playing cross-batted shots, Rahane dragged a couple from outside off stump against the Warriors seamers, one of them ending up as a flat six. When he fell, he left Binny with a task he’s become quite familiar with this season, as a finisher.


On a good track to bat on, Robin Uthappa had given Warriors a real shot at victory with a second-successive half-century. He is known to have worked hard this season, having lost 17 kilos to get in shape. Together with Aaron Finch, with whom he added 97, Uthappa took advantage of some sloppy Royals bowling that included a series of wides down the leg side. He middled the ball, and Mitchell Marsh ended the innings on a high, cruising to an unbeaten 35 off 21 balls. It marked a second straight improved performance with the bat from Warriors, but wasn’t enough to rescue their bowlers.