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Royals cruise to fourth straight victory

A magnificent 60 from Swapnil Asnodkar powered the Rajasthan Royals to a 45 run victory over the Kolkata Knight Riders at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur.

Shane Warne won the toss and elected to bat in their fixture in the Indian Premier League. The Royals scored 196/7 in 20 overs.

The Knight Riders were dismissed for 151 in 19.1 overs. Trivedi was well-supported by Sohail Tanvir, who took 2/30, while Warne and his spinning partner, Yusuf Pathan, also featured prominently in the win.

The gifted power hitter Pathan (55, 33 balls, 6x4, 2x6) and the diminutive Swapnil Asnodkar (60, 34 balls, 10x4, 1x6) were the batting heroes for the Royals.

Sourav Ganguly and Ajit Agarkar gave the Knight Riders early momentum before Agarkar, in the role of make-shift power hitter, was removed by Shane Watson for 20 (13 balls, 1x4, 2x6).

Brad Hodge was run out shortly afterwards as the Riders slumped to 51/3 in 5.6 overs.

Ganguly and David Hussey set themselves the target of rebuilding and looking for boundary opportunities, but found the going tough against Munaf Patel and Trivedi.

Patel made use of the yorker on numerous occasions to thwart the boundary-hitting efforts of Ganguly and Hussey, while Trivedi used the slower ball very well to upset the rhythm of the batsmen.

With 12 runs per over needed virtually from the ninth over onwards, Hussey and Ganguly needed at least two boundaries an over, and Ganguly perished (51, 39 balls, 4x4, 2x6) when he was superbly caught on the boundary by Mohammad Kaif off Warne as the Riders slumped to 119/4 in 13.5 overs.

The 68-run partnership in 7.5 overs had the Riders heading for a possible win, but the great catch proved to be a turning point.

Warne’s decision to introduce himself and the off-spinner Pathan in the 13th over, proved to be a master stroke. Both bowled well under tremendous pressure and refused to wilt under the boundary hitting pressure excerted by Hussey and Ganguly.

The opposite happened. They steadily increased the required run rate from 12 to 14 per over.

Trivedi’s double-strike in the 18th over, when he bowled Hussey for 42 (30, 1x4, 2x6) and also removed and uprooted the stumps of Prasanta Saha for one in the same over to reduce the Knight Riders to 146/7, proved to be the knockout-blow.

Earlier, Umar Gul, with 3/31, and Ishant Sharma, with 1/26, bowled well for the Knight Riders and forced the Royals into a more circumspect and workmanlike-approach to their batting.

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