Smith steers Rajasthan to IPL win

DURBAN: South Africa skipper Graeme Smith staged a boundary blitz as Rajasthan Royals cruised to a 78-run triumph over Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League Tuesday.

Smith struck 12 boundaries at balmy Kingsmead as he shared a 135-run first wicket partnership with Naman Ojha that set up the defending champions for a fourth win in eight outings.

The Protea made 77 off 44 balls before being caught at the boundary by Piyush Chawla and the 68-run innings of wicketkeeper Ojha included five sixes and five fours.

Royals made 211-4 in 20 overs and while Punjab recovered from a disastrous start in reply to reach 133-8, the outcome was obvious longer before the final ball was bowled.

Rajasthan bettered the previous highest total this season by 22 runs and the Smith-Ojha stand was also a 2009 IPL record as the round-robin phase of the Twenty20 tournament reached the halfway mark.

No Punjab bowler suffered more than Shantha Sreesanth, who bowled two no balls in the penultimate over and conceded 23 runs, including a six from 33-run Ravindra Jadeja.

Punjab made the worst possible start in pursuit of a 10.60-run-an-over target with Sunny Sohal caught by Rajasthan skipper-cum-coach Shane Warne off the first ball of the innings.

Karan Goel contributed just one run before he headed for the pavilion and when Australian Simon Katich departed in the fifth over, Punjab were 25-3 and staring humiliation in the face.

Skipper Yuvraj Singh established some middle-order stability with a 48-run spell at the crease that included three sixes and three fours, but only Irfan Pathan (19 runs) offered support.

Victory lifted Rajasthan from second last to second on the eight-team standings, behind leaders Chennai Super Kings on net run rate, while Punjab slipped from second to sixth.