A sparkling spell from a 41-year-old - no, not Rahul Dravid - who goes by the name of Pravin Tambe helped the Rajasthan Royals to their second straight win in the Champions League T20 with the IPL team completing a comfortable 30-run win over the Highveld Lions.
Pravin Tambe celebrates with teammates after picking up the wicket of Highveld Lions batsman Sohail Tanveer in their CLT20 match, September 25
Put into bat by the Lions, the Royals, aided by a plethora of 30s and 40s, soared to a score of 183 for five in their 20 overs.
The Lions looked to be making a fist of the target, before leg-spinner Tambe, all of 41 years and 352 days, wove his magic, picking up four straight wickets to tilt the match in the Royals' favour, with the South African side eventually finishing on 153 for nine.
The Royals are now the favourites to move into the semifinals after their ninth straight win at their fortress that is the Sawai Mansingh stadium in Jaipur, with all the rest of the teams in their group, including IPL champions Mumbai Indians, playing catch up.
The Lions lost three wickets in relatively quick time, with Shane Watson first picking up Quinton De Kock, before Vikramjeet Malik (two for 26), who got tonked a little, came back to pick up a couple of wickets.
Alviro Petersen and Hardus Viljoen then threatened to make a game of it by putting on 53 runs in just 6.3 overs. Then came the masterstroke from skipper Rahul Dravid, who brought on a player a little older than himself -- Tambe -- in the 12th over, with the game turning thanks to a brilliant spell from the leg-spinner.
Tambe first dismissed the dangerous-looking Viljoen (24, 21b, 2x6), bowling him with a smart googly. Jean Symes and Sohail Tanvir followed, before the settled skipper Petersen (40, 28b, 4x4) also saw his timber disturbed by Tambe, who finished with outstanding figures of 3-0-15-4.
The Lions went from 89 for three to 120 for seven and with the equation reading 64 from 29 at that point, the match was as good as over.
The first innings was all about little cameos, knocks that pushed the Royals to a considerable total.
Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Dravid started at the top, and for once, Rahane did not make a useful contribution.
The right-handed opener driving one uppishly towards mid-off with Hardus Viljoen taking a great diving catch off Sohail Tanvir.
Dravid looked like he was ready to anchor the innings, scoring a few boundaries in his own inimitable style. Sanju Samson (11), the other batsman that impressed in the first game, also fell early with Lonwabo Tsotsobe sending the youngster packing.
That meant Shane Watson had to take over, after Dravid (31, 30b, 5x4) also fell within the first ten overs - hitting one straight to cover off Dwaine Pretorius.
Watson took his time to get started, before mauling Aaron Phangiso, the spinner who made a name for himself in last year's edition by picking up Sachin Tendulkar's wicket, to build some momentum.
However, like Dravid, Watson (33, 24b, 4x4, 2x6) also got out at a crucial time, just when he looked in the mood - holing out to Jean Symes at long-on off Tsotsobe (two for 26) while trying to up the ante.
Stuart Binny (38, 20b, 5x4, 2x6), though, took over with a few delightful cricket strokes as the Royals' surge in the final overs started to take off. Binny was joined by Brad Hodge, Royals' finisher par excellence, and you knew the Australian was just biding his time before unleashing a few big-tome strokes of his own.
Once Binny got out, to a nice slower delivery from Pretorius (two for 27), Hodge (46, 23, 6x4, 2x6), the most experienced of T20 batsmen, took over in some style, smashing boundaries in every corner, to fly the Royals over the 180-mark.
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