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Dwayne Smith © Gallo Images

Smith, Tendulkar crush Rajasthan

Flamboyant West Indian Dwayne Smith struck a magnificent 87 to help the Mumbai Indians warm up for the Indian Premier League playoffs with an emphatic 10-wicket victory over the Rajasthan Royals in the final league match of the season in Jaipur on Sunday.

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The big-hitting right-hander blasted three sixes and 10 fours in his 58-ball knock and was aided superbly by veteran India star Sachin Tendulkar, who struck a more subdued 58 off 51 deliveries, as the visitors chased down the 163 victory target with two overs to spare.

Their partnership was a record for the first wicket, surpassing the 159 between Chennai Super Kings pair Michael Hussey and Murali Vijay last season, but only the fifth highest overall.

Earlier, Dhawal Kulkarni staked his claim for a regular place in the Mumbai line-up ahead of the knockout stages with a superb 3-18 in a match that was effectively a dead rubber after the visitors were confirmed as the third-place finishers even before the start.

The right-arm medium pacer, playing in his first match of the season, kept the home batsmen on their toes throughout an innings that promised so much more for Rajasthan, but failed to deliver after Shane Watson (45 off 36), Stuart Binny (30 off 17) and Owais Shah (28 off 24) all got starts.

However, they failed to kick on in the final league match of the competition as the inaugural IPL winners ended 2012 in seventh place.

At the start, Royals captain Rahul Dravid had won the toss and opted to bat first at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, but he lasted just five deliveries before sending a thick edge off Kulkarni to Dinesh Karthik behind the stumps for five.

The hosts were dealt another blow in the sixth over when Ajinkya Rahane (13), one of their form players of the series, pulled straight to Rohit Sharma at mid-wicket, before Binny helped Watson rebuild.

The pair took the score past 50 in the ninth over, with Binny then cutting loose in the 10th over when he plundered Harbhajan Singh for 22, including three fours and one massive six over deep square leg to set the crowd alight.

They put on 53 together in exactly six overs, before Kieron Pollard struck to remove both men.

The big West Indian first kicked the ball onto the stumps to run out Binny after he came too far down in search of a run that was not there, before Watson’s attempts to crash the ball over deep mid-wicket ended with a miscue to Smith at long on.

The wicket of the Australian came in the same 14th over that Royals went past 100, before a 43-run stand between Ashok Menaria (21) and Shah kept the scoreboard ticking over with the home side reaching 162 for six.

Mumbai’s chase was never in doubt after the opening exploits of Tendulkar and Smith, who smashed a combined 16 fours and three sixes.

The West Indian began with aggression and smashed the second ball he faced off Ajit Chandila for a straight six.

The tone was set for Smith and two openers put on 50 in 6.5 overs, before Tendulkar was given a lifeline on 18 when an attempted sweep off Brad Hogg was top-edged towards deep mid-wicket where Watson dived forward but failed to hold on.

It was 79 for 0 at the halfway stage and Smith continued to take a liking to Chandila at the start of the next over when he clubbed him for two more sixes, before the off-break bowler put down a hard-hit return catch from his next delivery with the batsman on 48.

Two deliveries later, Smith reached 50 from 34 balls with a single and then survived being caught from a no-ball by Siddharth Trivedi, who had overstepped his mark as the visitors continued to ride their luck.

The century stand came up in the 12th over, with Tendulkar next to reach a milestone -- the India legend collecting his 50 in 44 balls -- before Mumbai cruised home with 12 balls to spare.

RAJASTHAN ROYALS – Rahul Dravid (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Shane Watson, Dishant Yagnik (wk), Owais Shah, Ashok Menaria, Ajit Chandila, Brad Hogg, Stuart Binny, Shaun Tait, Siddharth Trivedi.

MUMBAI INDIANS – Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Ambati Rayudu, Dwayne Smith, James Franklin, Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh (capt), Lasith Malinga, Rudra Pratap Singh, Dhawal Kulkarni.


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