Shane Watson’s Rajasthan Royals have bounced back from a five-match winless streak in the Indian Premier League, but things were far less rosy for Mitchell Johnson and Glenn Maxwell.
Half-centuries from a brilliant Ajinkya Rahane (91 not out) and Karun Nair (61) steered the Royals to a 14-run win over Delhi Daredevils at Mumbai’s Brabourne Stadium on Sunday.
The pair drove fluently throughout their 113-run partnership for a total of 2-189, after Watson stitched together 21 including four boundaries before he was caught and bowled.
The Australian later took the key wicket of Delhi opener Shreyar Iyer, while a Daredevils side featuring West Australian paceman Nathan Coulter-Nile and NSW quick Gurinder Sandhu were left to rue their poor fielding display.
James Faulkner celebrated his return to the Royals with an impressive bowling spell, dismissing JP Duminy (56) and Yuvraj Singh (22) and conceding only 22 runs in his four overs.
Coulter-Nile and Sandhu had little impact with the ball, Coulter-Nile taking 1-38 while Sandhu went for 49 runs from his four overs.
The win lifts Rajasthan to the top of the league, while Delhi remain in sixth place.
“It was an important win. We had lost momentum, but turned it around,” Watson said.
“Rahane and Nair batted beautifully and the ball swung about nicely on this pitch.”
It was a less fruitful day for returning Australians Maxwell and Johnson as Kings XI Punjab went down to Mumbai Indians by 23 runs.
Johnson was particularly punished by opener Parthiv Patel (59) as the left-hander conceded 30 runs off his first two overs and finished on a shaky 1-41 from four overs.
He did, at least, see off Rohit Sharma (26) later in the innings, but Mumbai’s 3-172 proved unreachable.
Allrounder Maxwell, playing in his first match after being dropped for the last few games, made 12 off nine balls but was promptly dismissed after edging a reverse sweep and caught at third man.
Kings XI captain George Bailey looked strong early with 21 off 18 balls, before being run out by Patel.
“Full credit to Mumbai, they played better than us,” Bailey said.
“We finished really well to restrict them to 170. When we needed to accelerate, but they bowled very well.”