Delhi 152-5 (20 ov)
Rajasthan 156-3 (18.3 ov)
Toss: Rajasthan, chose to field
Delhi: De Kock 43, Duminy 39, Faulkner 2-26, Tambe 2-26
Rajasthan: Nair 73 not out, Samson 34; Shami 1-22
Man of the match: Karun Nair (Rajasthan)
NEW DELHI // It is common to hear about how cricket has changed these days. The boundaries have become shorter, the bats have become broader, rules have been transformed and training has become format specific.
While each of these factors have contributed to bringing elements of brute force to the game, there is still no better sight than watching batsmen play with finesse as Karun Nair demonstrated in Rajasthan Royals’ seven-wicket win over Delhi Daredevils at the Ferozshah Kotla Stadium last night.
Nair’s knock provided Rajasthan the calming influence in pursuit of a competitive target of 153. His unbeaten 73, the base of which was set during his 51-run second-wicket stand with Sanju Samson, helped Rajasthan stroll to their fourth win with nine balls to spare. That allowed them to hold on to third spot in the IPL standings, while Delhi are seventh.
Quinton de Kock’s enterprising 43 got Delhi off to a decent start, but none of the home side’s other top order batsmen got themselves in.
Murali Vijay mistimed a lofted hit to mid-off for 11, Kevin Pietersen, who should have been run-out on two but was not given despite replays showing he was clearly short of the crease, failed to capitalise and found the long-on fielder on 14, while Dinesh Karthik pulled a short ball straight to deep backward square for 12.
On a belter of a pitch, Delhi never really got their innings out of third gear and lost wickets regularly. Only at the end did things get productive when a late flourish by JP Duminy and Kedar Jadhav added 46 off 24 balls.
After losing the in-form Ajinkya Rahane to a good low catch by Vijay at cover for 12, two youngsters went about rebuilding the Rajasthan innings with a coolness that defied their age and experience. Samson’s innings was thrilling while it lasted. He made batting look easy.
His stylish 34, which contained two fours and two sixes, had the typical elements – lazy elegance and pure timing – before he was stumped off Shahbaz Nadeem, the left-arm spinner.
In yet another out-of-the-box move, all-rounder Rajat Bhatia was sent out at No 4. It may have been debated widely had it backfired, but Bhatia played a star role.
With 67 runs needed off 48 balls, a couple of quiet overs could have given Delhi a backdoor entry, but Bhatia rode his luck and made it count.
After being dropped by Duminy in the 13th over, he rubbed salt into Delhi’s wounds by smashing the next ball over the same fielder for six. The ferocity with which the runs started flowing suddenly meant, with 44 needed off the last six overs, the chase was reduced to a canter.
Even when Bhatia was out bowled after missing a wild slog off Mohammed Shami, there was a sense of helplessness in the Delhi ranks. Nair saw the innings home, along with Shane Watson who muscled his way to two sixes.
But not even those monstrous hits got the kind of applause Nair did as he walked off the park. In line with their tradition, Rajasthan had discovered another gem.
Shashank Kishore is a sub-editor at wisdenindia.com. Follow them on Twitter @Wisdenindia or The National's sport stories at @SprtNationalUAE