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Chasing 190 after collapse a special feeling, says RR hero James Faulkner

Faulkner RCB

Rajasthan Royals’ James Faulkner and Steve Smith celebrate at M Chinnaswamy stadium after pulling off an incredible win over Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL on Sunday

In a memorable ODI series against India last year, Australian James Faulkner came very close to pulling off an improbable win at M Chinnaswamy stadium, hitting his maiden hundred in the process, but failed. By his own admission, this is not his favourite ground to bowl at.

But when it comes to batting in Bangalore, Faulkner is starting to knit a legend of his own in the garden city. On Sunday, he and Steve Smith pulled off an incredible victory for Rajasthan Royals after Yuvraj’s star show had almost threatened to make it a meek finish for the visitors.

Having conceded 190 with the ball, RR found themselves facing the inevitable result when their 5th wicket fell for 106, with 85 runs still required off just 39 balls. The Aussie duo of Faulkner and Smith then pulled off a miracle, reaching the target with 7 balls to spare.

It was a horror death bowling from the likes of Ashok Dinda and Varun Aaron, but credit goes to Faulkner and Smith for scoring at a breakneck speed under tremendous pressure.

“When you are in a position we were in, you have nothing to lose. It’s all or nothing. Chasing a total down is always a nice feeling, but chasing 190 from that position is a very special feeling for the team,” Faulkner told iplt20.com after an exhilarating finish.

Faulkner, who won the Man of the Match award for his 41 off 17 deliveries, including 3 fours and 3 sixes, said he chose to attack the medium pacers after spinners had complete control in the middle overs. “They were holding us up with spin, so personally I thought I’ll just play myself in; maybe get a single or play out a dot or if it’s a bad one, put it away. I started a bit slowly and then thought I’ll take on the medium pacers. It worked for me, but I thought the 18th over where Steven took on Ashok Dinda (for 22 runs) was when the game swung back in our favour. The rest is history.”

Faulkner himself was at the receiving end of some brutal hitting in the first innings from AB de Villiers in particular, who smashed 4 sixes off the Aussie’s overs towards the end. However, Faulkner was eventually able dismiss ABD with 2 balls remaining in the innings.

“I thought AB de Villiers played an exceptional innings and he is one of the hardest players to bowl to in T20 cricket. We knew it was going to be tough coming against him. Then add Yuvraj’s innings to that, which was unbelievable. So, two class players took the game away from us at the halfway mark. We won the game of cricket in the end, but it was a very hard one.”

Rajasthan Royals haven’t been big spenders and star poachers at the IPL auctions, but their selections, both local and foreign have come together to play some of the most memorable T20 cricket over the years.

“All we are concerned about is to play cricket for each other. We haven’t got many superstars and that adds to the beauty of how we coordinate and complement each other on the field. We have a very healthy environment in our team, guided by our coach, mentor and captain. It has helped us so far and hopefully will continue to do so,” Faulkner said appreciating the work done behind the scenes by the franchise.

With 6 wins from 9 games, Rajasthan are sitting pretty at the 3rd spot behind table toppers Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings, and with Chinnaswamy chosen as the new venue for IPL final this year, it may not be the last time Faulkner has entertained the Bangalore crowd.

“I must admit that this is not one of my favourite grounds in the world to bowl at, especially when you are bowling to some of the world’s best T20 cricketers. We might have to come back here for the final, but there is a lot of cricket to be played before that,” he signed off.

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