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Watson, Rahane half centuries take Rajasthan to 170/4

Shane Watson and Ajinkya Rahane struck half centuries as Rajasthan Royals scored a challenging 170 for four against Pune Warriors in their Indian Premier League match here on Sunday.

The highlight of Rajasthan innings after choosing to bat first was the 94-run stand for the second wicket between Watson (58) and opener Rahane (61) after captain Rahul Dravid (21) departed early.

Watson threatened to take Rajasthan to a much bigger total with a flurry of boundaries in his 31-ball knock before he was out in the 15th over. He hit six fours and four sixes in his innings.

Rahane, on the other hand, was less adventurous and more intent to preserve his wicket before being out in the final over. He hit seven fours in his 47-ball knock.

Rajasthan were 126 for two at the end of 15th over but they lost way towards the end as they could add just 44 runs in the last five overs with Brad Hodge (14) out in the 19th over.

For Pune, Ashish Nehra was the most successful bowler with figures of three for 23 while Angelo Mathews got one wicket for 29 runs.

Rajasthan, who need to win all of their remaining matches to keep their hopes of making it to the play-offs alive, began on a sedate note with captain Dravid and Rahane not taking too many risks. Not many boundaries came in the first powerplay.

Dravid was the first one to go in the fifth over with Pune wicketkeeper Robin Uthappa effecting a superb catch.

Dravid wanted to launch an Ashish Nehra delivery but got an outside edge and Uthappa dived to his right to take a low one-handed catch.

Rajasthan were then 29 for one and they could score just 45 for one at the end of the first powerplay.

One down Watson then began the fireworks as he hit Bhuvneshwar Kumar for a six as soon as he came out to the crease. He then smote Murali Kartik for two successive sixes in the 10th over at the end of which Rajasthan were 77 for one.

Pune captain Sourav Ganguly, who returned to lead the side after sitting out for one match, brought in part-timer Jesse Ryder in the 13th over but the burly New Zealander was hit for a six and two fours to concede 15 runs.

Watson reached his fifty with that six in the 26th ball he faced with four fours and as many sixes.

Watson, however, fell in the 15th over to Nehra who returned for his second spell. The strong-built Australian edged a yorker-length delivery on to the stumps. His 31-ball knock was studded with six fours and four sixes.

Rahane reached his fifty in 40 balls with the help of five boundaries.
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