Brief Scores: Rajasthan Royals 150 for 7 (Miller 62, Morris 36*, Avesh 3-32) beat Delhi Capitals 147 for 8 (Pant 51, Unadkat 3-15) by three wickets
Rajasthan Royals, reeling after a tight loss and the injury to Ben Stokes that ruled him out of the remainder of the Indian Premier League 2021 were in the dumps as they were reduced to 104 for 7 while chasing 148 on an unconventional wicket at the Wankhede Stadium. The Royals’ bowlers were on the mark as they changed their pace perfectly, with Jaydev Unadkat leading the way. He was ably supported by youngster Chetan Sakariya, who ensured that the Delhi Capitals struggled to put 150 on the board in the first innings.
While chasing, the Royals were unable to get partnerships going with Jos Buttler disappointing yet again. The wicket keeper has just two half centuries since the IPL last year, and will have to take on the onus, especially with Stokes ruled out. A fighting knock from David Miller, who replaced Stokes in the XI, kept Rajasthan in the hunt before Chris Morris smashed four sixes to take his team over the line as Rishabh Pant and Co. will rue a number of atrocious decisions, like not bowling out Ravi Ashwin.
Here are the talking points from the match:
Ajinkya Rahane needs to fire
The number three from Delhi Capitals has not had a memorable run in the IPL ever since he was traded by Rajasthan Royals. Other than a wonderful half century against RCB last year that helped his side seal a playoffs berth, Rahane has been unable to light up the tournament since 2020. Other than his innings against RCB, Rahane has scored on;y 61 runs in 8 innings at an average of 7.6 and a strike rate of just 88.4. He has got out on single digits on six occasions for Delhi Capitals, and has been dismissed within the first six overs seven times. He has faced more than 20 balls for the franchise in a single innings only once, and is fast proving to be a liability for the side.
Undoubtedly, Rahane would not have made the XI if regular captain Shreyas Iyer had been fit, and it remains to be seen if the veteran is persisted with. The Delhi team might be tempted to give Steve Smith – an anchor similar to Rahane – a go in the XI, in place of Tom Curran, with either Umesh Yadav or Ishant Sharma coming in place of the Englishman.
The fine return of Jaydev Unadkat
Before this match against Delhi Capitals, Jaydev Unadkat had conceded 10+ runs in an innings on 17 successive occasions! Though the franchise has kept their faith on the Saurashtra player, Unadkat has been unable to live up to expectations and was not selected in the XI in the opener against Punjab Kings either, with state mate Chetan Sakariya edging ahead. However, Unadkat returned to the side against Delhi Capitals, and he immediately left his impact with variations and slower deliveries that were hard to read. He bowled three overs in the powerplay for the first time since 2011, and picked up three wickets in the first six overs to stall the run flow.
With Jofra Archer nursing a hand injury, the Royals were short of a new ball bowler, and Unadkat took on the responsibility to perfection. He also has better numbers in the first half of the innings, which might have prompted new skipper Sanju Samson to trust him upfront. He eventually ended with figures of 3 for 15 off his 4 overs and walked away with the Player of the Match award.
Chris Morris shows his “worth”
The most expensive player in the history of the IPL, Chris Morris did not have an outing to remember with the ball as he conceded nine runs an over and did not complete his quota of four overs, with Chetan Sakariya being asked to bowl the last over instead.
However, with the bat, Morris displayed his skills as he kept his nerve and took Rajasthan Royals over the line in the last over. Walking out to bat at 90 for 6 in the 15th over, Morris needed to play sensibly on a track where there was not much pace to be found on the ball. He saw David Miller depart for a well made 62 off 43, which bought the onus on him. The South African batted calmly and with maturity as he smoked four huge sixes, including two against Kagiso Rabada, to take his team over the line in the end.
Why did Ashwin bowl 3 overs?
The most economical bowler from Delhi Capitals, Ravichandran Ashwin, conceded only 4.70 runs in his three overs, and was surprisingly not asked to finish his quota. The off-spinner got the ball to skid through and constantly outsmarted David Miller every time the South African looked to take him on. The carrom ball and the back of a length delivery were on full display as the batters found it tough to get under his slower balls on a wicket that was keeping low.
However, much to the surprise of everyone, Ashwin was replaced by Tom Curran and was not asked to complete his quota of overs, something which head coach Ricky Ponting admitted was a mistake in the post match press conference. Curran eventually conceded 35 off 3.4 overs, and was the most expensive bowler on the night (only bowlers who bowled more than 3 overs).
With the ball getting stuck and the pitch considerably getting harder to bat on, another over from Ashwin could have been the game changer.