Jaipur: Rajasthan Royals breezed into the Champions League semi-final with a nine-wicket win over Perth Scorchers that rarely looked an even contest, and preserved their unbeaten streak in Jaipur this year. The result also knocks Scorchers out of contention for the semi-finals, meaning no Australian sides remain in the hunt.
Kevon Cooper was the primary architect of Scorchers’ collapse, settling into a fine rhythm early to deliver a number of humming yorkers, two of which yielded scalps. He took four wickets in total and conceded 18 from his four overs, while Pravin Tambe’s canny legspin removed batsmen at the other end. Both he and James Faulkner finished with two wickets apiece.
With only 121 to chase down, Sanju Samson and Ajinkya Rahane stroked attractive half-centuries to remain unbeaten at the close.
Liam Davis hit 13 runs off the second over of the match, but that was as good as Scorchers’ evening got, as they embarked on a slide that began gradually at first, before reaching its hapless crescendo in the middle overs. Davis and opening partner Ashton Agar departed inside the Powerplay, and though Voges promised a bright innings with three early leg-side boundaries, the batsmen at the other end could not muster sustained competence.
Simon Katich was the recipient of Pravin Tambe’s largesse, when a return catch was dropped in the eighth over, but the batsman could make no use of his second life. Two balls later, he ran past a googly. Hilton Cartwright failed to get bat to a straight Cooper yorker soon after, before Tom Triffitt offered Tambe a return chance the bowler could hold onto this time.
Ashton Turner and Joel Paris were castled by two more yorkers, and somewhere during the collapse Voges had mishit a slower ball to long-on, to top-score with 27. From 97 for 9, No. 10 Jason Behrendorff managed the kind of batting sense that had evaded the men above him to lift his team to 120.
Behrendorff engineered a tad more hope for Scorchers when he removed Rahul Dravid with the best yorker of the match – a late-swinging beauty – to have Royals 1 for 1, but 120 was always going to be difficult to defend on a pitch two teams had hit 167 on, hours before.
The occasional false stroke punctuated a spate of flowing square strokes off Samson’s blade, but the range and composure in his 42-ball 50 embellished his reputation as a rising prospect. Rahane was the more circumspect of the two to begin with, but with so few to chase, Scorchers could not transform that reticence into pressure. The pair quickly began matching one another shot for shot, and the last half of the chase was little more than a simple stroll to the finish line.
Royals reached their target with 3.3 overs remaining, and their match with Otago Volts will now determine who finishes atop Group A.
Rajasthan Royals 121 for 1 (Rahane 62*, Samson 50*) beat Perth Scorchers 120 (Cooper 4-18) by nine wickets