The Rajasthan Royals camp could say that this was a game we should have won. The team bowled and fielded well in the first innings & got off to a solid start in the chase as well. Just when the top-order showed signs of firing, the middle order committed some mistakes that cost the team dearly in the end. Samson & Uthappa were set, but couldn’t be there right till the end. Parag’s run-out was unnecessary and could’ve been avoided with better calling. The Capitals bowlers held their nerve in the final five overs and conceded just 25 runs to stifle the Royals chase. The death bowling of both teams was quite impeccable.

On a dry surface, Shreyas Iyer had no hesitation to bat first after winning the toss. The game got going on the perfect note, as Archer broke through Shaw’s defense on the first delivery of the match. He bowled an accurate in-swinger that darted in through Shaw’s bat and pad to hit the middle stump. In his next over, Archer’s pace proved too hot for former Rajasthan Royals skipper, Ajinkya Rahane to handle. He tried to pull a short one, but the ball went off the splice of the bat to Uthappa at mid-on. The Capitals were in early trouble with 2 wickets down in the Powerplay.

Shikhar Dhawan & DC skipper, Shreyas Iyer got together to build the innings. They scored a few boundaries in the Powerplay to get the score up to 47. Dhawan seemed to middle a lot of his shots and went after our spinners when they came on to bowl. After getting to his fifty, Dhawan decided to play a reverse sweep off Shreyas Gopal. He looked completely off-balance and got a top edge, that settled into Tyagi’s hands at short third man.

Iyer got to his 50 in the next few overs and the DC innings seem to shape well for a flourish at the end. Tyagi and Archer had 4 overs up their sleeve together and it was clear Smith would use him in the final five. Tyagi started with the 16th and bowled a couple of stinging yorkers. The pressure got the better of Iyer, who looked to go big, but holed out to Archer at long off. Tyagi’s over saw just 3 runs being taken by the DC batsmen.

Archer followed it up with a good over, although he was smashed for a flat six by Carey. Tyagi finished his spell with another fine over, conceding just 5 runs. He bowled four yorkers in is final 2 overs and gave away just 8 runs, while claiming Iyer’s wicket. Archer’s final ball of the day accounted for Stoinis’ wicket. He finished on 3/19. The bowlers did a fine job of keeping Stoinis quiet, as he departed for a 19-ball 18.

Apart from some success in the middle overs, the Capitals couldn’t get going in the Powerplay or the death overs. Unadkat bowled a solid final over which included the wickets of Carey & Axar Patel. DC finished on a par score – 161/7.

It was high time the Rajasthan Royals’ top order fired. Stokes & Buttler strode out and showed some intent straightaway. This time, they opted to play for proper cricket shots, trying to hit the ball off the middle of the bat. The first two overs went for 21 runs. Rabada & debutant, Deshpande gave away two boundaries apiece.

Buttler welcomed Nortje with a nonchalant pick-up shot that sailed over the mid-wicket fence. The ball was sent down at 148 kph by Nortje. Stokes & Buttler gave the Royals the highest opening stand of the tournament when they went past 27. Buttler kept attacking Nortje. He walked across and scooped him twice in as many balls for the same result – boundary. However, Nortje had the final laugh, as he stuck to his line and length. Jos missed a fullish delivery and was castled on the final ball of the third over. The start though by Jos was impeccable. He set the tone for the chase by scoring 22 off 9 balls.

Ashwin was brought on to slow the ball down. Smith fell prey to a flighted delivery, as he tried to flick the ball into the leg side. Smith got a leading edge and the ball lobbed up for Ashwin to gorge down with ease. Ben Stokes seemed like a mere spectator in the two overs that saw wickets fall. He was joined by Samson, who has had a string of low scores lately.

Nortje bowled another fiery over, with a lot of the ball in the mid-150 kph zone. Samson & Stokes saw the spell off and picked up some runs off the spinners. Samson smashed Axar Patel for two sixes, the first time he has been hit over the ropes in this season. After a steady 46-run stands, Stokes looked to go big against Deshpande, but miscued the ball to long on. Samson hung in with Uthappa for a while, but he misjudged an arm ball from Patel and got castled for 25.

The cat was set among the pigeons when Riyan was run-out by an unwanted mix-up between him & Uthappa. After a formidable start, there was a bit of a juggle with the Royals on 110/5 in the 14th over. The required run rate wasn’t a problem with Uthappa joined by Tewatia. The Royals had to ensure that they didn’t lose any more wickets.

Tewatia was given a life when he was yet to get off the mark. He swatted a short ball down to fine leg, where Nortje couldn’t cup his hands around the ball cleanly. The Royals dug-out would have let out a huge sigh of relief with that drop. We needed just 39 runs off the final 30 overs with 5 wickets in hand.

Ashwin bowled the 16th over, also his final one of the evening. The over included a warning to Uthappa to stay within the line at the non-striker’s end. Ashwin kept it tight and gave away just 2 runs. The equation now read 37 off 24.

Uthappa & Tewatia took some risks in the Rabada over. Tewatia played a gorgeous upper cut off a short delivery and got the much-needed boundary for Rajasthan Royals. 8 runs in the Rabada over.

Nortje was trusted with the 18th over of the chase with the Royals needing 29 off 18 balls. He bowled a pin-point yorker to get through Uthappa, who walked back on 32. Archer, who has been in batting form in the tournament joined Tewatia in the middle. Archer swung hard at the first ball he faced, and the ball looped up straight down the ground. There was some confusion as Tewatia wanted two runs, but Archer sent him back. Tewatia looked to play a sweep to a full delivery outside off, but missed the ball. He got a single off the final ball with a crisp drive to mid-off.

Rajasthan Royals’ task was getting a bit difficult as they needed 25 off the final two overs with one over from Rabada left. Dhawan, who was the acting captain, gave the 19th to Rabada with Tewatia on strike. He mistimed the first ball past Rabada and stole a single. Archer missed two back-to-back deliveries and then got out on the 4th ball of the over. That also meant three dot balls for the Delhi Capitals. Gopal walked out and got a single off the first ball he faced. Tewatia retained strike for the final over, by picking a single. We needed 22 off the last over.

Debutant, Deshpande was given the responsibility of bowling the final over of the innings. He must’ve been in a great amount of pressure. Tewatia left the first one, and it turned into a wide. Tewatia launched another widish delivery towards long off, where Rahane pulled off an excellent stop by ensuring the ball didn’t go beyond the ropes. Shreyas Gopal couldn’t come back for the second run though.

Deshpande bowled the right lengths, as Gopal & Tewatai couldn’t get the big hits away. Gopal got a boundary off the penultimate ball, but lost his wicket on the final one. Deshpande did a fine job of defending 21 runs in the final over with danger-man Tewatia at the crease.

Rajasthan Royals had their noses ahead for most parts of the chase. They needed 39 runs off the final 5 overs, but could manage just 25 in that period. Some crucial moments that lost us the game was the flurry of wickets we lost before the death overs set in. It was vital for a set batsman to have been there against the likes of Rabada & Nortje in the final few overs.

We lost the game by 13 runs in the end. There were improvements in the top order’s performance this time around. Stokes did a solid job by scoring 41, while Buttler got us off to a lightning start. The middle order with Sanju & Uthappa lost their wickets at the wrong time. There’s a lot to take away from this game and learn for the next few matches. We will have to put this game behind us soon and focus on the next one soon.