Anchored brilliantly by the classy Ajinkya Rahane and well supported by Karun Nair Rajasthan Royals got their IPL 8 campaign back on track as they beat Delhi Daredevils by 14 runs in IPL 8 match at the Brabourne Stadium.
Chasing a massive 190-run target, Delhi Daredevils could all manage 175/7 in stipulated 20 overs. Prior to this victory, Rajasthan slumped to their third loss in their last five games (including two rain wash out matches) with a eight-run defeat against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium. With this much needed win, Royals surpassed Chennai Super Kings to reclaim top spot in the points table with 14 points in 11 matches.
James Faulkner and Stuart Binny were the pick of the bowlers for Rajasthan as they claimed two wickets apiece to dash Delhi hopes of making an upset. For Delhi Daredevils, Skipper JP Duminy continued his good form with 39-ball 56 runs knock but faltered in the tensed chase.
Earlier, Rahane and Nair hit sparkling half centuries and got involved in a century stand to power Rajasthan Royals to an imposing score of 189 for 2 wickets.
The classy and consistent Rahane warmed up slowly before tearing into Delhi bowling to post his fourth half century of the season as well as reach to 430 runs while making an unbeaten 91 — his highest this season — from 54 balls, studded with three sixes and nine fours. He claimed the orange cap for being the highest run scorer till now.
Nair, promoted to number three at the fall of captain Shane Watson (21), gave his senior partner Rahane splendid support by making a quick-fire 61 off 38 balls, laced with two sixes and six fours, before being dismissed in the 19th over.
The duo’s second wicket stand worth 113 off 69 balls helped Rajasthan up the ante further after Rahane and captain Watson had put on 52 for the first wicket in 6.5 overs.
Delhi started off well the 500th match of the IPL but then their pace-oriented bowling became wayward and the fielding rugged as three catches, two off Rahane and one off Nair, were put down and they also conceded runs through misfielding. The visiting side conceded 75 runs in the last five overs.
In the beginning, Delhi kept Rahane and captain Watson on a leash on the Brabourne Stadium track that offered good bounce and swing till the end of the fourth over by conceding 23 runs.
However, the fifth over bowled by Zaheer Khan yielded 13 runs when Rahane struck him for a four to the cover region and then Watson slashed and clipped the bowler for two fours when he erred in line. That set the temp for the men in Blue . When Rahane flicked Nathan Coulter-Nile bowled on his pads, Rahane gleefully dispatched it for another four that helped Royals end the six-over power play with 43 on board without losing a wicket.
Zaheer was replaced after a three-over spell that yielded 21 runs by Sri Lankan Angelo Mathews who gave width to Watson to be hit for two fours before taking his revenge by having the Australian caught behind with a rising ball.
But Watson had the satisfaction of giving Rajasthan a good start of 52 with Rahane who was dropped by IPL debutant Gurinder Sandhu when on 34 off Mathews.
Rahane then got involved in the century stand with one-down Nair, promoted ahead of last game’s batting hero Sanju Samson, and the Karnataka Ranji batsman utilized the faith shown by playing some clever shots and giving good support to his senior partner.
Nair was put down on 35 off Coulter-Nile at third man by Saurabh Tiwary. In the same over, Rahane pulled a short ball from the tall Australian pacer over square leg for the first six of the innings to reach his fourth half century in 10 games before completing the 400th run of the season with a six and a four off leggie Amit Mishra.
Nair then took over the attacking reins and smashed Sandhu for a six and two fours to reach his 50 in 33 balls after Zaheer and Mishra got into a tangle and grass Rahane earlier in the over that yielded 19 runs.
Finally, Nair fell to Coulter Nile who finished with one for 38 while the most economical spell came from Mathews (1 for 27). But Rahane and promoted James Faulkner hit a few more boundaries towards the end to remain unconquered.