IPL 8: Rajasthan rediscover winning ways


May 3, 2015

Brief Scorecard: Rajasthan Royals 189 for 2 (Rahane 91*, Nair 61) beat Delhi Daredevils 175 for 7 (Duminy 56, Faulkner 2-22) by 14 runs

Ajinkya Rahane (91 n.o.) and Karun Nair (61) added 113 runs in 11.3 overs to propel Rajasthan to 189 for 2. © BCCI

May 3, 2015

Brief Scorecard: Rajasthan Royals 189 for 2 (Rahane 91*, Nair 61) beat Delhi Daredevils 175 for 7 (Duminy 56, Faulkner 2-22) by 14 runs

Ajinkya Rahane (91 n.o.) and Karun Nair (61) added 113 runs in 11.3 overs to propel Rajasthan to 189 for 2. © BCCI

MUMBAI: When Ajinkya Rahane takes guard, he brings with him a serene beauty. Whether in the cauldron of Test cricket, the middle ground of One-Day Internationals or the hurly-burly of Twenty20, Rahane remains unruffled.

Even when he’s smashing his way to 91 not out off just 54 balls. Even when he’s pulling fast bowlers for sixes over midwicket or dancing down to deposit legspinners into the sightscreen. Rahane provided the foundation, ballast and the window dressing in Rajasthan Royals’ imposing 189 for 2 at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai on Sunday (May 3), with Karun Nair’s 61 off 38 the pillar that provided support where most needed.

In reply, Delhi Daredevils could muster only 175 for 7, the 14-run win restoring Rajasthan to the top of the Pepsi IPL 2015 standings and breaking a sequence of five matches without victory. Fittingly, it came at a venue that is the latest ‘home’ for the franchise. Rajasthan now have 14 points from 11 matches and a foot in the playoff door. Delhi, with eight points from nine games, will need to scrap hard to break free of the mid-table clutter.

JP Duminy had opted to field on a pitch that had some green – and both sides thought the seamers would be a factor as evidenced by team selection. Delhi brought in Gurinder Sandhu for an IPL debut, opting to bench the prolific Imran Tahir. Rajasthan gave Rajat Bhatia his first match of the season in place of Ankit Sharma, and also brought back James Faulkner.

Pre-match pitch readings, however, don’t account for Rahane taking the conditions out of the equation.

Delhi’s seam trio of Zaheer Khan, Gurinder and Nathan Coulter-Nile began well, keeping the ball full, getting it to move and denying Rahane and Shane Watson room. However, once the openers had got a measure of the conditions, the runs began to flow more easily. It helped too that Delhi couldn’t maintain their early discipline and were terribly sloppy in the field to boot.

Rahane was dropped by Sandhu in the 11th over off Angelo Mathews and could have been on his way for 34 off 27. Saurabh Tiwary couldn’t hold on to a top-edged pull by Nair off Coulter-Nile in the 15th over when the batsman was on 35 off 28. Rahane earned another life when on 64, neither Zaheer nor Amit Mishra getting to the ball that popped in the air and stayed up long enough for at least one of them to have made an attempt.

The dropped chances apart, Delhi’s fielding wasn’t too hot either, with balls slipping through fingers on the way to the boundary. Their first success came when Watson nibbled at one outside off to be caught behind, breaking a 52-run opening stand in the seventh over. By the time Nair fell, going for a big shot in the penultimate over, the score had moved to 165.

Not that Rahane and Nair were complaining. Over the course of 69 balls, the duo added 113 runs. Rajasthan had promoted Sanju Samson to No. 3 in their previous match against Mumbai Indians with excellent results. Ignoring the ‘don’t fix it if it ain’t broke’ mantra, they pushed Nair up to that slot, and hit pay-dirt a second time. Nair didn’t blast off from the get-go, but crucially, he didn’t allow the scoreboard to stagnate. The result was that once the boundaries started coming, the score was amped up considerably.

Rahane, in spite of the drops, was fluidity personified. Without hitting the ball in anger, he still had the wherewithal to finish with three sixes and nine fours. Most impressively, he had only 13 dot balls in his innings. If he couldn’t find the fence, he did at least find the gaps.

What transformed Rajasthan’s score from competitive to formidable was the final six overs, which realized 85 runs. After 14 overs, they were 104 for 1, the platform set. Rahane, then on 44 off 34, blasted 47 more runs off his final 20 balls while Nair wasn’t behind, looting 28 off his final 12 deliveries. The finishing abilities of Faulkner were hardly needed, and the considerable skills of Steven Smith didn’t come into play at all.

Delhi needed a start to match their opponents, but the prolific opening duo of Mayank Agarwal and Shreyas Iyer were back in the hut inside five overs. Yuvraj Singh came out at 32 for 2, but though he played a couple of delightful drives and pulls, he fell without being able to kick on, Stuart Binny holding on to the ball over his head while back-pedalling at the square-leg fence.

Mathews walked in nine overs into the innings with the required rate already over 11. It was not an impossible task, with Duminy middling the ball well at the other end, but Mathews couldn’t get going, and when he became Binny’s second victim, the match swung decisively away from Delhi, who were 106 for 4 and needed 84 off 39 balls.

Duminy ended up playing a lone hand, his 56 off 39 helping narrow the margin of defeat, which could still prove valuable if net run-rates come into play with the points table tightly packed in the middle.

But Delhi needed more than that, and bigger contributions from the men around the captain, to make a fist of the chase. They didn't need someone to do a Rahane, but in the end, they didn't even get anyone matching up to Nair.

Courtesy: Wisden India