On a slow pitch where the ball hardly came on to the bat, the Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Capitals batsmen struggled to score freely. After scoring 115 in the first innings, the Royals took the game deep, but couldn’t stop the Capitals from getting to the target. With this loss, we have to bow out of the Vivo IPL, but we fought right till the end and gave ourselves every possible chance. Riyan Parag showed yet again how composed he is by becoming the youngest batsman in the Vivo IPL to score a half-century. He kept a cool head from the moment he walked in till the last ball of the innings, taking us to a respectable total. Ajinkya Rahane, who was back as captain, won the toss and elected to bat, with the sluggishness of the pitch in the back of his mind. The Royals didn’t get off to a great start, as Rahane lost his wicket early. He went on to try an uppish flick, a second too early, and got caught. Liam Livingstone tried to take the attack to the Capitals bowlers, as he smashed Ishant Sharma for a maximum over wide long on. However, Ishant came back strong, deceiving Liam with a slower one that went through him. An unfortunate mix-up in the running between Sanju Samson and Mahipal Lomror led to the fall of our third wicket, as the former was run out. The Royals were reeling at 26/3 as Shreyas Gopal made his way out to bat to steady the innings. At the other end, Lomror edged one to Pant, adding to the trouble for the Royals. The cool Riyan Parag joined Shreyas Gopal and the duo tried to get the innings back on track by playing out some good balls and trying to pick up runs off the loose ones. Riyan picked up a couple of crucial boundaries during the partnership. The stand was broken when Mishra got rid of Gopal with a turning leg-spinner. Gopal advanced to go for a big one, but missed and Pant did the rest. Stuart Binny couldn’t last any longer than the one ball he faced, as he edged Mishra through to Pant. Krishnappa Gowtham nearly handed the hat-trick to Mishra, trying to slog off the first delivery he faced. He skied one beyond the bowler’s run-up, where Boult made a mess of the attempt. Mishra finally got Gowtham caught at long off and the Royals lost their seventh wicket. With 100 seeming a fair distance away, the time was for some sensible cricket to come to the fore. Sodhi gave Parag good company for the next few overs, as the total inched towards 100. Parag pressed the accelerator in the 17th over, bowled by Ishant Sharma. The pacer bowled a few extras before Parag took him for 2 back-to-back boundaries. Rajasthan Royals accumulated 18 runs off the over to breathe some life into the latter half of the innings. In the 18th, Sodhi mistimed a drive off fellow Kiwi team-mate, Boult. He lobbed the ball towards cover, and Mishra took a good, low catch. The onus fell on Riyan Parag to finish the innings on a good note and take the total beyond 100, and closer to 120. The 19th over was a quiet one, but we went past 100. Parag went berserk in the final over of the innings. He smashed Boult for two fantastic sixes, one over long off and one over long on to propel the score beyond 110. He tried for a third maximum off the final ball, but got caught at long off. Rajasthan Royals finished on 115/9 in their 20 overs. The DC openers started smoothly, as Dhawan and Shaw picked up a few boundaries in the third over. Rahane introduced Sodhi in the fourth over, and the leggie responded instantly. He sent both the openers back into the dug-out off successive deliveries. He ended the over as a double wicket-maiden. Iyer and Pant went severe on Sodhi in his following over. Iyer dispatched Sodhi for two consecutive sixes, both of them down the ground, while Pant found the boundary off the final ball of the over. Gopal struck in his second over when the DC skipper, Iyer tried to go over long on. He couldn’t connect well and was caught by Livingstone at long on. The spinners kept things tight for most of the middle overs, as Pant and Ingram were forced to picking up singles. Boundaries were hard to come by, and the run-rate was just over 6 runs an over. Ish Sodhi returned and struck yet again, as he foxes Colin Ingram who tried to sweep him fine. Just when Delhi Capitals seemed to be falling behind in the game, Pant decided against leaving the game for late. He pulled Aaron for a six over fine leg, and then sliced the ball to the point fence for a boundary. Sherfane Rutherford joined the action as he managed to find a maximum by evading the leaping Riyan Parag at the deep mid-wicket fence. However, he perished on the following delivery as he tried to smash Gopal out of the ground yet again. The ball went miles up in the air and Livingstone settled calmly under the ball, taking the catch safely. Pant ended the over with his fourth biggie and took the Capitals closer to victory. The final touches were laid in the 17th over, as DC won by five wickets. Rajasthan Royals may have been knocked out of the Vivo IPL, but the latter half of the season was one where saw a lot of fight. Once again, we proved that we could win from anywhere and stayed together like a family. Riyan Parag and Shreyas Gopal were our shining light as they stood up and put in some remarkable performances in the season. Our fans have stood by us through the highs and lows, and the team is forever grateful to each of them for all the support throughout the season. Halla Bol!
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