Watson leads the charge for the Royals
With the help of Shane Watson's brilliant all-round show the Rajasthan Royals defeated the Delhi Daredevils at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur.
The powerful Australian hit thundering shots and towering sixes (74, 40b, 5x4, 5x6) and single-handedly changed the complexion of the match as Royals scripted its fifth win on home ground. Royals, which has won all its matches at home, leads the table with 14 points and has almost clinched a place in the semifinals. Watson was named ‘man-of-the-match.’
Defending a total of 156, Daredevils strove to compete against the odds. A.B. de Villiers and Virender Sehwag pounced on mistakes made by the rival batsmen and Royals looked vulnerable.
Delhi sustained the pressure, but once Watson pulled Yomahesh for a six over midwicket and targeted him to accelerate Royals’ scoring rate from a mere three an over in the first five, events changed dramatically.
Though leg-spinner Amit Mishra captured the wickets of Graeme Smith and Ravindra Jadeja, it was not enough.
Watson fell when the Royals was seven short of the target. He was declared out after umpire Steve Davis referred the appeal to the third umpire.
Earlier, Royals, which has been the dominant team in the IPL, depended on its seamers to deliver the goods. They responded in an admirable manner and restricted Daredevils to 156.
Invited to bat, the Daredevils openers looked nervous. The top scorer in the league, Gautam Gambhir, edged the first ball he faced dangerously to the fine leg fence.
Dimitri Mascarenhas’s first over cost a dozen runs. However, runs did not come easily to the visitor. The openers had to earn every run and risk singles. Royals’ fielders, manning strategic positions, too played their parts well.
Some of the shots played by the aggressive openers in the power play overs fell short or were a few metres away from the fielders. Gambhir and Sehwag had to take a chance, but survived. Neither the highest run-getter Gambhir, with a tally of 305, nor Sehwag was given the leeway to cut and pull.
Shane Warne, though punished by Farveez Mahraoof at the end, had once again outwitted his opponent in pursuit of a big target. Although Delhi progressed at almost eight runs an over, pressure was building and the fall of a wicket looked imminent with Sehwag struggling to dictate terms. He punched Watson to point and Mohammad Kaif, without moving an inch, gladly accepted the catch.
Thereafter, wickets tumbled at regular intervals. When Warne’s direct hit broke the stumps, Shikhar Dhawan had reached his ground safely, but minutes later, the left-hander decided to sacrifice his wicket although it was not his mistake.
Gambhir darted for a non-existent run and Munaf Patel had a lot of time to take a few steps and pull out a stump at the bowler’s end. Cramped by the wicket-to-wicket line of the seamers, Gambhir tried to cut Siddharth Trivedi and edged the ball on to his off-stump.
Mascarenhas, hit for 12 runs in his opening over, proved his worth as a utility player. When Warne tossed the ball to him a second time, the England all-rounder sent back A.B. de Villiers and Dinesh Karthik.
After slipping to 100 for six, Daredevils’ fate hinged on the two Sri Lankans — Tillakaratne Dilshan and Farveez Maharoof. Fortunately, the seventh-wicket pair clicked and made runs through fours and sixes.
Thanks to the four sixes Maharoof struck off Warne in the 19th over — the leg-spinner went for 27 in that over — Delhi finished with a decent score.