Jaipur: Rajasthan Royals maintained their unbeaten record at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium with a gripping five-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore to make it five wins in a row in Jaipur. Set a target of 172, the home team was indebted to young Sanju Samson's 61 and 41 from Shane Watson who earlier in the day had snared three wickets as RCB's big guns were kept quiet on Monday. RCB hit back at the end with three wickets in the space of eight deliveries, but Stuart Binny swung the penultimate ball of the match over midwicket for the winning boundary.
Rajasthan's chase had began with a huge slice of life. First ball, Rahul Dravid got a thick edge off Ravi Rampaul which Virat Kohli spilled at second slip when diving in front of Chris Gayle. Rampaul hit back with a wicket-maiden third over in which he bounced out Ajinkya Rahane for 2, but Gayle spilled a catch - albeit much tougher - to reprieve Samson on 12.
Samson replied with two fours off Vinay Kumar and smoothed over Dravid's dismissal for 22 to Moises Henriques by producing two exquisite shots off Murali Kartik. As soon as the left-arm spinner appeared, Samson skipped out and sliced him for consecutive sixes over extra cover. With Watson holding up one end sturdily, Samson carried on with his shots until he fell to Rampaul for 63 off 41 balls in the 15th over.
Watson muscled some Vinay over the deep midwicket boundary before he fell for 41 off 31 balls, but still Rajasthan were in command. Defending six runs off the last over, Vinay bowled Brad Hodge (32 off 18) first ball, and on the next Kohli nailed a clever throw to run out Owais Shah for 1. Binny got on strike for the fifth ball, which Vinay banged in short, and pulled wide of the fielders to seal a thrilling win.
Earlier, having been asked to bat, Bangalore were given a quick start by Gayle, but once he was removed by Watson a flabby middle order was exposed and only a 22-run last over lifted them to a strong total.
In the battle of the superstar allrounders, Watson took the honors by getting Gayle caught behind in his first over to leave RCB on 44 for 1 in five. Gayle had sped to 34 in 14 balls with six fours and a brutal flat six over midwicket, but failed to score a run in the two deliveries he faced from Watson.
Gayle's exit was followed by a sequence of 37 deliveries without a boundary. Abhinav Mukund struggled for timing and ended up inside-edging an expansive drive against Siddharth Trivedi for a 21-ball 19, and AB de Villiers (21) was cut off before he could really do some damage. Having been dropped on 16 by Sreesanth, who made a meal of a straightforward catch at sweeper cover by totally overrunning it, de Villiers picked out the exact same spot in the next over - off Sreesanth, incidentally.
Kohli too fell trying to get a boundary, lofting Watson to James Faulkner at long-on for 32, and some sharp fielding from Faulkner ran out Henriqes on 22. When Rampaul fell to Watson's final ball of the innings to give the Australian allrounder figures of 3 for 22 it looked like RCB would struggles to get to 160 but Vinay slogged th sixes off Faulkner in the 20th over to get the total to 171.