Royals continue victory march

Rajasthan Royals took another big step towards a CL20 semi-final berth with a clinical 30-run win over the Highveld Lions to extend their blemishless 2013 record here on Wednesday evening.
The result gave them eight points and a clear lead in the race from Group A, the other four teams all having dropped vital points in the Ahmedaabd washout of two days ago.
With the Lions needing 184 to win, Rahul Dravid’s men struck at regular intervals to suffocate the chase at 153/9, leg-spinner Pravin Tambe doing the terminator act with 4/15 in three overs after Brad Hodge, Shane Watson and Stuart Binny led the batting charge.
Tambe, brought on after the 11th over, struck almost immediately by removing the threatening Hardus Viljoen (24). He then took out Jean Symes and Sohail Tanvir in his second over and all but sealed the game for his side by bowling skipper and top scorer Alviro Petersen (40) in his third. After that, it was a formality for the home side.
Earlier, a disciplined effort by the Lions fast bowlers led by Lonwabo Tsotsobe had almost held the Royals down to a manageable score till Hodge broke loose.
With local lad Ashok Menaria keeping him company, Hodge put on an ultra-quick 38, the experienced Victorian blazing his way to an unbeaten 23-ball 46 (6x4, 2x6) that turned a decent total into a seriously challenging one for the Lions.
Put in to bat by Petersen, the Royals began badly, losing consistent opener Ajinkya Rahane in the fourth over, and were rarely able to get any real momentum until Binny (38, 20b, 5x4, 1x6) and Watson (33, 24b, 4x4, 2x6) started the turnaround with a quick 43 for the fourth wicket.
An assault on left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso (0/52) helped the Royals change gears.
Scores: Rajasthan Royals 183/5 (Hodge 46 not out, Binny 38, Watson 33, Dravid 31; Tsotsobe 2/26, Pretorius 2/27) bt Lions 153/9 (Petersen 40, Tambe 4/15, Faulkner 2/22, Malik 2/26)

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