Pune Warriors have finally won a IPL game. Having lost their last 11 ties in the Indian Premier League, Pune finally managed to win one by beating Rajasthan Royals by 7 wickets and in the process opening their account for the 2013 season.
This was also Rajasthan's first loss of the season.
The win was scripted by Pune's Australian opener Aaron Finch, who top-scored for the hosts with 64 off . His innings included six boundaries and 3 sixes. Interestingly, Finch was included in the side in palce of the injured Marlon Samuels. And it was surely a lucky break for the troubled franchise.
While Finch was the mainstay for Pune, the foundation for the successful chase was laid by Robin Uthappa.
The India discard found form to score a quickfire 32 off 16 balls. Uthappa looked in a hurry and would have finished off the game in no time had not Rahul Dravid taken a brilliant catch to dismiss him off James Faulkner's bowling.
Yuvraj Singh, who returned to the playing XI after missing the previous game due to injury, also chipped in with an useful 28 off 23 deliveries that included two beautiful sixes.
Earlier, Rajasthan captain Rahul Dravid (54) struck his second half century in three games but the Royals could only post 145 for five.
Opting to bat, the Royals had the worst possible start with opener Kushal Perera out LBW first ball off Bhuvneshwar Kumar but Dravid steadied the innings with the other opener Ajinkya Rahane (30 off 27 balls) with a 81-run stand for the second wicket from 11.1 overs.
Rahul Dravid top-scored for Rajasthan with 54.
The Royals, however, failed to capitalise on their skipper's half century as they suffered a batting collapse in the second part of their innings.
The visitors lost wickets in quick succession and from 81 for one in the 12th over, they were reduced to 106 for five in the 16th over.
Brad Hodge (22 not out) and James Faulkner (19 not out) recovered some lost ground as they took the Royals to 145 for five with a 39-run unbroken stand for the sixth wicket from 4.1 overs.
After the initial jolt of Perera, Dravid and Rahane went about scoring with ease with at least a four every over. Dravid hit Angelo Mathews for two fours in the fourth over before Rahane joined with a boundary off Ashok Dinda as the Royals reached 40 for one at the end of the fifth over.
The duo maintained the pressure on the Warriors bowlers with a four each off Mitchell Marsh to take their side to 72 for one at the halfway mark.
Two quick wickets in the form of Rahane and Stuart Binny (1) in the space of eight balls jolted the Royals innings before Darvid himself was out in the 15th over with Ross Taylor taking a brilliant one-handed catch. Dravid got a bit of width and played the delivery in the air towards cover region but Taylor dived to his left and plucked it with one hand.
Dravid hit eight fours in his 48-ball knock and with his departure at the team score of 93 for four, the Warriors came back into the match.
For the Warriors, leg-spinner Rahul Sharma and Yuvraj Singh grabbed two wickets each while Bhuvneshwar took one.