Brad Hodge used all his experience in the shortest format to good effect as he propelled Rajasthan Royals to a decent 144 for six against Kolkata Knight Riders in a Pepsi Indian Premier League match, here today.

Hodge smashed 46 off 31 balls with seven boundaries as Royals got 38 runs in the last three overs after KKR bowlers had maintained discipline for the better part of the 17 overs.

Ajinkya Rahane’s 36 (3x4, 1x6) was the only other significant contribution as Sunil Narine had the best figures of two for 28 in four overs.

Narine’s figures were somewhat damaged by Hodge and left-handed keeper-batsman Dishant Yagnik (16) who clobbed him for 18 runs in the penultimate over.

Shane Watson (5)’s arrival was much anticipated in the Royals’ ranks but it lasted a mere 10 balls as he uppishly drove Brett Lee only to be caught by Eoin Morgan in the extra cover region. This was after having lofted the previous delivery over the mid-off fielder for a boundary.

Rahane got into the double figures with back-to-back boundaries in Shami Ahmed’s next over with a cover drive and a steer towards third-man boundary. With skipper Dravid for company, the duo added 35 runs for the second wicket and looked like consolidating the innings.

However KKR’s ‘Go-To’ Man for the past couple of seasons Rajat Bhatia got the important wicket of Dravid (17) with an innocuous delivery. The Delhi veteran bowled one that pitched on length and came straight but Dravid tried to play across the line to find the stumps rattled.

It seemed Stuart Binny (14, 3x4) started from where he left against Delhi Daredevils but Laxmi Ratan Shukla angled one into the right-hander to trap him leg before.

Rahane and Brad Hodge took the score past 100 and the young Mumbaikar hit a breathtaking six over extra cover off Shami Ahmed’s bowling.

Just when Rahane looked like getting set for a big knock, KKR’s ‘Mystery Man’ struck twin blow. First he got a straighter one, which Rahane edged to Manvinder Bisla behind the stumps. Rahane faced 34 balls for his 36. A ball later, Narine removed Kevon Cooper for a duck as Bisla pulled off a smart stumping to reduce Royals to 102 for five.

(This article was published on April 8, 2013)
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