A stuttering top order and a lame effort with the ball consigned Delhi Daredevils to their ninth loss in 12 matches, while Rajasthan Royals sounded a warning with a nine-wicket thumping that embellished their unbeaten home record, and propelled them to second place on the table.
Royals’ seventh straight victory in Jaipur was founded first on robust bowling, as Siddharth Trivedi, Shane Watson, Stuart Binny and 41-year-old debutant Pravin Tambe struck upon a collective consistency that erased the damage done in Shaun Tait’s early, wayward overs. Their openers then flew to an unbeaten century stand in staggeringly orthodox fashion, and ensured Daredevils’ modest total would not challenge them.
Ajinkya Rahane, who opened alongside Rahul Dravid, was dropped on 4, but did hardly a misdeed thereafter, as he finished not out on 63 from 45 balls, after he hit the winning run in the 18th over. Dravid had more of the strike in the early overs, and though he was the slower scorer, reached his fifty first, before departing for 53, with the match almost secure, at 108 for 1.
It was Royals’ bowling, however, that had the bigger impact on the match, as they muzzled a seasoned Delhi Daredevils top order, despite their strike bowler’s indiscretions. Tait began the match with an 11-run over, three wides among those runs, and his second cost 17, later in the Powerplay. But James Faulkner and Watson had struck once each in between those Tait overs, and that was enough to scare Mahela Jayawardene and David Warner into relative reticence.
On a pitch so full of runs, Daredevils did not hesitate to bat first, but the visitors were barely scoring at six an over inside the Powerplay, and when Warner departed in the eighth over to leave his side at 47 for 3, the run rate dipped further still. Jayawardene attempted a measured rescue, but fell too, before he could make any meaningful impact, and were it not for a well-paced 64 not out from Ben Rohrer, whose recent nuptials had evidently done him good, Daredevils may not have reached 154 for 4 on a pitch on which they should have made 180.
Royals’ openers exploited Daredevils bowling, and the pair went about playing orthodox cricket, with just the level of aggression required for such a chase. Daredevils’ seam bowlers strayed towards the pads too often, and Dravid laced the first four of the innings through the leg side, and continued to prosper there, throughout his innings. Rahane began with more nerves – an inside edge past the stumps in the eighth over in addition to the early life – but he found the going simple enough in the end, thanks largely to the largesse of the bowlers. Watson arrived after Dravid’s fall in the 14th over and struck two powerful fours off Umesh Yadav almost immediately, as Rahane coasted beyond 50 at the other end. The pair blasted one six apiece in the 17th over to take their side to the brink.