The trend of low scorers continued unabated in IPL 2013, as the Rajasthan Royals, in their own backyard at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur, completed a comfortable 19-run victory over the defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders.
After posting a decent total of 144 for six, thanks largely to Brad Hodge, the Royals bowled out KKR for 125, with Siddharth Trivedi and Kevon Cooper coming up trumps, as the Royals picked up their second win in as many games.
It was a train wreck of a batting performance from KKR, who could not find any momentum at any stage of the innings, with the Royals bowling lineup, packed with seamers, taking full advantage of the help from the wicket.
The first over, bowled by S Sreesanth, went well enough for the Knight Riders, yielding 14 runs, before everything started to go pear-shaped.
The third over from Rajiv Shukla (two for 28) was the game-turner, with the medium pacer picking up the wickets of Manvinder Bisla and the experienced Jacques Kallis in the space of three balls.
It was a clear case you miss and I hit to dismiss Bisla, before Kallis was caught behind by Dishant Yagnik while wafting outside off stump at a wide delivery.
Twenty for two became 50 for six in the blink of an eye as Manoj Tiwary, Gautam Gambhir, Yusuf Pathan and Laxmi Ratan Shukla was sent packing by the Royals bowlers with Trivedi (three for 23) picking up three of those.
The responsibility was entirely upon Eoin Morgan, a player who could not get off the KKR bench last year, and the English international brought out his array attacking shots. A bunch of cuts, pulls, drives and lofted sixes later, KKR were starting at a very makeable target of 55 from six overs.
Dravid brought on Shaun Tait to stem the flow of runs, and it worked with Rajat Bhatia smashing a pull shot straight down Stuart Binny's throat at midwicket.
Morgan, though, was now in the zone as two boundaries in the last two balls took the equation to 46 from the last five. But the game started to slip away as Sreesanth bowled a great 16th over, giving away just five runs while also picking up the wicket of Brett Lee.
Morgan (51, 38b, 3x4, 3x6) refused to give up the chase, but was eventually left with a little too much to do as the Royals, with Cooper (three for 15) again finishing things off nicely, held their nerve to clinch a convincing victory.
Earlier, the Rajasthan Royals struggled their way to a defendable total, thanks largely to Hodge and Ajinkya Rahane. On a pitch that had plenty of grass on it, the KKR fast bowlers looked to take advantage, but the problem was that apart from Lee, they did not have any bowler with raw pace in their lineup.
Shane Watson, playing his first match, opened the batting with Rahane, with the Aussie veteran struggling to come to terms with the pace of the pitch, as his compatriot Lee clearly held the upperhand.
A mistimed lofted drive which went for four in the third over of the innings was followed by another attempted bludgeon through the offside, which broke his bat, off Lee's bowling, which went straight to Morgan at short cover.
Rahul Dravid (17, 20b, 2x4) hit a couple of glorious drives through the offside, but could not repeat his heroics from the first game. The Indian legend played down the wrong line to an in-dipper from Bhatia, and had to walk back to the pavilion after his timber was disturbed.
Stuart Binny, who played a game-changing 20-ball 40 against Delhi, also did not last long, trapped in front by Laxmi Ratan Shukla for 11.
That wicket brought Brad Hodge to the crease and the Australian, along with Rahane, put on 38 runs for the fourth wicket, taking the score from a precarious 63 for three in 10.1 overs to 101 in a little over 15.
Hodge (46, 31b, 7x4) took over the mantle once Rahane fell for a well played 36 (34b, 3x4, 1x6), smashing a few boundaries in the final overs to take the Royals to a respectable 144, which proved to be more than enough.