JAIPUR, May 1 (PTI): Ross Taylor smashed a quickfire unbeaten 47 as Rajasthan Royals thumped Pune Warriors by six wickets in a thrilling encounter to jump to the top of the table in Indian Premier League here today.
Taylor, who was dropped when on 31, smashed four boundaries and two sixes in his 35-ball unbeaten knock and shared 52 runs with Ajinkya Rahane (15 not out) for the unseparated fifth wicket to chase down the target of 144 with three balls to spare.
At one stage, it looked like Pune would snap their five-match losing streak with the asking rate rising near 11 by the 16th over but Taylor and Rahane kept their nerves as Rajasthan reached 144 for four in 19.3 overs in the match that went down the wire.
With the victory today, Rajasthan Royals have won 15 of their 19 matches they had played at Sawai Man Singh Stadium in the IPL so far.
They are now on top of IPL table with 11 points from nine matches ahead of Kolkata Knight Riders (10 points from eight matches) and Mumbai Indians (10 from seven).
For Pune, who dropped three catches in the match, leg-spinner Rahul Sharma took three for 13 while Alfonso Thomas got one wicket. Left-arm spinner Murali Kartik went wicketless for 41 runs from his four overs.
Chasing 144 for a win, the RR openers Shane Watson (12) and Rahul Dravid (18) did not contribute much and that gave Pune a chance before Taylor and Rahane took the game away.
Pune started their bowling with Kartik and he could have achieved success in his fourth ball itself but Manish Pandey failed to hold onto a difficult catch and Watson survived.
Watson did not, however, stay long as he was out in the fifth over with Thomas finding his edge with an outswinger for Robin Uthappa to take the catch behind the stumps.
Dravid, who hit two flourishing fours early on, later struggled and was dropped by Harpreet Singh in sixth over.
But the blunder did not cost Rajasthan Royals dear as Dravid was out in the eighth over with the addition of just four runs to his individual score. The former India captain was caught and bowled by Rahul Sharma in a soft dismissal.
RR lost their third wicket in the 11th over in the form of Johan Botha (12) but they were still on course at 59/3.
Taylor and Ashok Maneria (29) had some lusty hits mainly off Kartik but the asking rate rose to more than 10 by the end of the 15th over.
The explosive New Zealander then changed the complexion of the game with a flurry of big hits though he was lucky to have survived as Nathan McCullum dropped him when on 31.
Pune Warriors: J Ryder st Yagnik b Botha 18, M Pandey c Taylor b Trivedi 30, R Uthappa c Yagnik b Warne 35, Yuvraj Singh run out 7, Harpreet Singh c Rahane b Watson 13, M Manhas c Binny b Trivedi 24, N McCullum not out 11, R Sharma run out 0, M Kartik not out 0. Extras: (B-1, LB-2, W-2) 5. Total: (For 7 wickets in 20 overs) 143. Fall of wickets: 1-24, 2-70, 3-91, 4-93, 5-121, 6-134, 7-135. Bowling: J Botha 4-0-23-1, A Menaria 1-0-10-0, S Watson 4-0-19-1, A Singh 3-0-29-0, S Warne 4-0-31-1, S Trivedi 4-0-28-2.
Rajasthan Royals: SR Watson c Uthappa b Thomas 12, R Dravid c & b Sharma 18, J Botha lbw b Sharma 12, AL Menaria c Thomas b Sharma 29, LRPL Taylor not out 47, AM Rahane not out 15. Extras: (b 6, lb 3, w 1, nb 1) 11. Total: (4 wickets; 19.3 overs) 144. Fall of wickets: 1-29, 2-43, 3-59, 4-92. Bowling: M Kartik 4-0-41-0, AC Thomas 4-1-28-1, R Sharma 4-1-13-3, JE Taylor 3.3-0-22-0, Yuvraj Singh 1-0-9-0, NL McCullum 3-0-22-0.