Two South Africans – Chris Morris and David Miller – ensured Rajasthan Royals chased down a tricky 148-run target against Delhi Capitals to put their Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign back on track. The Royals defeated Capitals by three wickets with two balls to spare on a sticky Wankhede Stadium pitch on Thursday.
With 27 runs remaining from 12 balls, Morris, with his 18-ball 36, proved why he deserved to be the biggest buy of the IPL this season, hitting two sixes each in the 19th and 20th overs to help the Royals cross the line in a game where margins were thin and fortunes swung rapidly.
SCORECARD | POINTS TABLE | AS IT HAPPENED
Morris was ably supported by Miller, who replaced the injured Ben Stokes and scored an all-important 43-ball 62 even as the top-order including Manan Vohra (9), Jos Buttler (2) and skipper Sanju Samson (4) went cheaply, putting the onus on the lower order to take the team across the line.
The Royals were reduced to 36/4 by the end of the eighth over with Capitals pacers Kagiso Rabada (2/30) and Chris Woakes (2/22) making things difficult for their opponents. Talented pacer Avesh Khan too pitched in with 3/32, his second three-wicket haul in as many games.
Talk of the Wankhede wicket producing another high-scoring affair seemed misplaced as bowlers on both sides made merry, capitalizing on slower deliveries. Interestingly, the Capitals had been reduced to 37/4 by the end of the seventh over.
IPL 2021: Chris Morris takes Rajasthan Royals to win over Delhi Capitals
Khan dismissed both all-rounder Shivam Dube (2) and youngster Riyan Parag (2) cheaply with well-disguised slower ones, leaving Miller to do all the heavy lifting.
Miller began constructing his innings carefully as he waited for support from the other end. Rajasthan reached 52/5 at the end of the tenth over, still needing 96 runs from 60 balls.
Spinner Rahul Tewatia gave glimpses of a revival with a 17-ball 19, including two hits to the fence, before bowing out to a short-pitch ball by Rabada with Morris coming to the crease.
Miller reached his all-important 50 from 40 balls before hitting two monstrous sixes off Khan square of the wicket to give slight hope of a win, but faded away on the fifth delivery in his pursuit, being caught by debutant Lalit Yadav on long-on.
Left-arm seamer Jaydev Unadkat (7) and Morris then ensured Royals completed the chase.
Earlier, Unadkat made an instant impact in his very first match, helping Rajasthan restrict the mighty Capitals for 147/8.
RR skipper Sanju Samson’s decision to bring in Unadkat in place of leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal got the desired result. Promising pacer Chetan Sakariya opened the bowling with Unadkat, immediately freezing the flow of runs. Unadkat, a domestic star, proved that nothing can replace the experience of playing on slightly sticky Indian pitches.
Unadkat took 3/15 in his stipulated four overs, removing the formidable opening pair of Prithvi Shaw (2) and Shikhar Dhawan (9) apart from Ajinkya Rahane (8), the trio scoring in single digits to leave Capitals jittery at 36/3 at the end of the first Powerplay.
Taking a cue from Unadkat, Mustafizur Rahman of Bangladesh dismissed Marcus Stoinis for a duck with a 115kmph delivery to reduce Delhi to 37/4 at the end of the seventh over.
Delhi skipper Rishabh Pant then took it upon himself to guide his side to a respectable total. Pant hit nine boundaries in his carefully crafted 32-ball 51 before being run out by Riyan Parag in the 13th over. The dangerous-looking Pant went for a non-existent single, only to be direct hit at the non-striker’s end by Parag, who broke into a celebratory dance.
Thereafter, it was a downward curve for the Capitals. Yadav, who replaced leggie Amit Mishra, kept the scoreboard ticking with a 24-ball 20, which included three hits to the fence, before being caught at mid-on by a backward-running Tewatia off Chris Morris.
Bowling all-rounders Curran (21) and Woakes (15) stitched a crucial 28-run stand before Rahman broke their seventh-wicket partnership, uprooting Curran’s wicket with a slow yorker.