IPL starts with surprise wins for Royal Challengers, Mumbai Indians (Roundup)

Cape Town, April 19 (Inditop) Past reputation went for a toss as Bangalore Royal Challengers crushed defending champions Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians clinically routed runners-up Chennai Super Kings to give a resounding start to the Indian Premier League (IPL) here Saturday.

Mumbai Indians that had a disastrous start in the inaugural tournament losing first four matches last year beat Super Kings by 19 runs in the opening match.

Royal Challengers, led by new skipper Kevin Pietersen, annihilated Rajasthan Royals by a massive 75 runs though it had finished last in the inaugural edition

Three Indian veterans – Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble – led the way for their teams, using their experience of playing on bowler-friendly wickets.

Tendulkar’s 59 off 49 balls was the fulcrum of Mumbai Indians’ total of 165 for seven.

Sri Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga (3-15) and Sanath Jayasuriya (2-34) restricted Chennai Super Kings to 146 for seven.

In the second match, Dravid, who was replaced by Pietersen as Royal Challengers’ captain, struck back with vengeance, hitting 66 and guiding the team through a difficult phase to reach 133.

Rajasthan Royals, who had fairytale inaugural season, were all out for the lowest IPL score of 58 runs with Kumble picking five wickets for only five runs.

The brilliance of Tendulkar coupled with tight bowling saw Mumbai Indians collect full points.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s decision to bowl under overcast conditions after a delayed start appeared spot on as Tendulkar and his opening partner Sanath Jayasuriya (26) lived dangerously in an unconvincing start. Jayasuriya was run out, ending the 39-run opening stand.

It turned out to be a forgettable debut for Andrew Flintoff, who was on the receiving end of Abhishek Nayar’s onslaught. Nayar made a quickfire 35 off just 14 balls and hit Flintoff for three sixes in a 22-run over.

While chasing, Chennai Super Kings suffered the first set-back as Malinga removed opener Parthiv Patel with the second ball of the innings.

Matthew Hayden (44) played a careful knock but as the innings progressed he found his touch. The retired Australian opener perished while chasing a wide Jayasuriya delivery to Zaheer Khan.

Flintoff (24) and Dhoni (36) tried their best but could not see the team through.

Tendulkar was guarded in his assessment of the team’s performance.

“I am glad that we have started well, but I don’t want to take anything for granted. It’s too early in the tournament and it’s same for the other teams also.”

The second match started on a exciting note with Dimitry Mascarenhas (3-20) dismissing Jesse Ryder and Ross Taylor in the first over in successive deliveries.

Royal Challengers were soon left tottering at four for 52 before Dravid, a master of these conditions, summoned his class to anchor the innings. His 48-ball 66 had eight fours. Pietersen added 32.

“I am in good touch after the tour on New Zealand. Conditions here are ideal for a player like me. You have to play good cricketing shots when the ball is moving. I played few balls to set myself in the middle and then played strokes,” Dravid said.

The Rajasthan Royals made a mess of the run-chase with the batsmen getting out to poor shot selection. Praveen Kumar (2-7) swung the ball to create trouble for the batsmen. Ryder soon joined the party (2-14) to leave Rajasthan Royals reeling at five for 28 runs. They could never recover from the disastrous start.

Kumble, who bid farwell to international cricket last year, running through the middle-order and tail in a flash, picking 5-5.

Rajasthan Royals captain Shane Warne said it was an “embarassing” beginning.

“We are the champions and we should have backed ourselves. Bangalore had a bad last year and they came out firing. Chasing a low score, we should have won with couple of overs left. The shot selections of our batsmen were bad.”