Helped by Marsh fireworks, Kings XI ground Rajasthan Royals

May 29th, 2008 - 1:53 am ICT by admin  

Mohali, May 29 (IANS) Shaun Marsh scored a breathtaking century as Kings XI Punjab brought the high-flying Rajasthan Royals down to the ground with a 41-run victory in the last league match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) here Tuesday night. Marsh struck a blazing 115 off 69 balls. Helped also by electrifying cameos by James Hopes (51 off 35) and Yuvraj Singh (49 off 15), Kings XI scored a formidable 223/3.

Rajasthan Royals opener Neeraj Patel struck a valiant 39-ball 57 with 10 boundaries and Yusuf Pathan whipped 39 off 15 deliveries but their efforts went in vain as the hosts took the honours in a clash of table toppers.

Patel kept them in the hunt in the initial overs and their best chance to turn the tables was when Pathan and Kamran Akmal (24 in 8 balls) launched an attack in the middle overs. The duo hit six sixes in 14 deliveries to put pressure on the home team bowlers but it came a bit late.

Royals made three changes in the line-up and they badly missed their regular captain Shane Warne and pacer Sohail Tanvir, who rested themselves before the semi-final against Delhi Daredevils.

The star of the match was undoubtadely Marsh. It was absolute carnage here as Marsh, Hopes and Yuvraj entertained the crowd with scintillating stroke play.

Marsh’s century had seven sixes and 11 boundaries. The Australian has been in top form throughout the tournament but he was exceptional Wednesday night.

It was an innings that reminded of Brendon McCullum’s power-packed 152 that set the tone of the IPL in the inaugural match in Bangalore. And it was only fitting that the league stage comprising 40 nights of entertainment ended in such fashion.

Marsh’s destructive innings had the same touch of class and was enthralling to watch.

An immaculate timer of the ball, Marsh peppered the deliveries to all parts of the stadium with effortless ease. Even the yorkers soared over for sixes. Marsh displayed an array of shots. The cuts, pulls, drives and straight lofts - everything came out off his blade unstuck.

He used the straight bat to perfection and the stylish follow through of the left-hander carried it to distance. Marsh also went past Gautam Gambhir to become the tournament’s leading run-getter with a century and five fifties in 10 matches.

He had an ideal partner in Hopes at the other end and the duo together tore the bowling apart. There was no breathing space for the bowlers whose good deliveries too were tonked out of the ground.

The Rajasthan Royals bowling attack have been steady throughout the tournament and that is one reason why captain Warne chose to field every time he won the toss. The shrewd captain, however, was not in the middle here to make those subtle bowling changes that has often turned into master-strokes.

Marsh was severe on Shane Watson, who was leading the side in Warne’s absence, spanking his two wide deliveries off him for boundaries through the off side. Watson was then carted over midwicket and cut fiercely off consecutive deliveries. After scoring 88 in 10 overs and with all their wickets intact, Marsh and hopes stepped up the gas.

Yusuf got a breakthrough as Hopes was caught at deep midwicket. But there was no relief as the stage was set for Yuvraj to pile on the agony of Royals.

The two left-handers launched a breathtaking attack competing with each other to send the ball farther.

Yuvraj played only 15 balls and blasted six sixes. Pankaj Singh was clobbered for 25 and then Siddharth Trivedi was hit for three sixes.

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