Delhi Capitals (DC) scored a hard-fought six-wicket win with four balls in a tall scoring match against Rajasthan Royals (RR) at Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur on Monday. Replying to RR’s impressive 191 for 6 riding on skipper Ajinkya Rahane’s 105 not out, DC reached 193 for six in 19.2 overs with Rishab Pant remaining unbeaten on 78 runs off 36 balls with four sixes and six fours.
DC went to the top of the table with 14 points and a better net run rate (NRR) of +0.181 from 11 matches. Chennai Super Kings moved to the second spot also with 14 points, NRR of +0.087, but from 10 matches. RR and RCB continued to occupy the last two spots with identical points tally of six from 10 matches each.
With 17 runs required off 12 balls, Rabada fired in two dot balls. Pant and Colin Ingram managed five runs from the next three balls before Pant smashed the last ball for a six to reduce the target to six runs of six balls. Left-arm medium pacer Jaydev Unadkat was given the ominous task of containing the DC batsmen. Ingram took a single of the first ball, and Pant finished the match with a flourishing six of the next ball that just touched the ropes with the third umpire confirming the six and DC’s victory with four balls to spare.
Chasing big totals can be a dicey affair and call for unorthodox strokes. Southpaw and India opener Shikhar Dhawan tried to do that at the very outset as DC began their chase of RR’s 191 runs. Showing aggressive intent against pacers and spinners, Dhawan kept shuffling in his crease to try and unsettle the bowlers.
With young Prithvi Shaw showing a lot of maturity at the other end, the opening pair added 72 runs in 7.3 overs to give DC a solid start. Dhawan was undone by the leg spinner Shreyas Gopal who cleverly bowled wide outside the off stump on seeing the batsman dancing down the wicket for wicketkeeper Sanju Samson to effect an easy stumping.
DC skipper Shreyas Iyer didn’t last long and wicket-keeper, batsman Rishabh Pant joined Shaw at the crease with the score reading 74 for two. Pant was clear in his message of going after the bowling at the very outset and the third wicket pair blossomed to add 84 runs before Shaw was caught in the deep trying to hit Gopal outside the boundary.
Earlier Rahane, relieve of the burdens of captaincy, got into his groove as a free flowing batsman though he initially enjoyed a slice of luck. Ishant Sharma dropped a regulation catch off an intended sweep shot when Rahane was on 16. That dropped catch could have proved costly for DC in their bid to stake a claim for the top spot , but Pant and Dhawan played hard cricket to put their team on top.
Rahane and Steve Smith added 130 runs for the second wicket in 12 overs. Their onslaught was the bedrock for RR to build a challenging score on their home ground. Smith was out for 50 runs from 32 balls with eight fours and all eyes then turned on to Rahane, who was returning to his form with a nicety by smotting the ball from the meat of the bat.
While wickets kept tumbling at the other end, Rahane raced to his second IPL century – the first was scored almost seven years ago. South African Kagiso Rabada claimed two wickets (Roger Binny for 19 and promising youngster Riyan Parag for 4) to prevent RR from galloping past the 200 mark. Rahane remained unbeaten on 105 from 63 balls with three sixes and 11 fours.