RR came into this game looking for consecutive victories at home, to help get more points on the board. Ajinkya Rahane proved his ability to bat with a combination of both aggression and timing through his century. RR were in a commanding position after the end of the first innings. The wicket stayed consistent throughout the game and the positive start made by the Delhi openers had a telling impact on the game. In the end, RR’s impressive total of 191 was chased down as Rishabh Pant’s 78* off 36 balls settled the game in DC’s favour. The Royals were unchanged after a comprehensive win against the Mumbai Indians at the SMS. Winning the toss, the Delhi Capitals opted to bowl first. With hardly any gap between the last two games played, the Royals had a fair idea about the nature of the surface. The opening duo of Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Samson walked out to the middle and had a shaky start. Unfortunately, Sanju Samson was run out without facing a single delivery due to a slight misunderstanding with Rahane. Rahane didn’t give the Delhi Capitals time to capitalize on this lapse as he was extremely aggressive right from the start by taking the aerial route quite often. The Delhi Capitals provided a second chance to Rahane as Ishant Sharma dropped a sitter in the fifth over of the innings. Rahane couldn’t have made a better use of this opportunity as he hit Axar Patel for a six straight down the ground followed by a four. Rabada, who opened the attack for the Delhi Capitals was hit for plenty in the last over of the powerplay as Rahane used his pace to perfection. By the end of the Powerplay, RR were 52-1. The skipper didn’t take time to settle at all and was quick between the wickets stealing a lot of doubles. Rahane brought up his 2nd fifty of Vivo IPL 2019 in style by hitting a boundary in the 8th over. The spin combo of Axar Patel and Amit Mishra never got a chance to settle in, as both the batsmen used their feet to perfection and kept the scoreboard ticking at a brisk pace. Before the opposition knew it, RR had raced to 95 for the loss of 1 wicket in 10 overs. The on-song Smith was terrific with his wrists, as they crossed the 100-run mark in the 11th over of the innings. The Capitals had no option but to replace the spinners and bring their pacers back into the attack. Sherfane Rutherford was introduced into the attack but he wasn’t able to change the fortunes for the Capitals after giving away 16 runs in his only over, that included three consecutive boundaries hit by the RR skipper. Over 14 of the innings saw Ajinkya Rahane demonstrating innovation at its best as he scooped Morris for a maximum. The over also saw Smith notch up his second 50 in as many games. However, these celebrations were short-lived as the captain holed out to Chris Morris at long-on off the first ball of Axar’s over. Stokes was the next man in, and hit his first boundary coming down the track against Ishant Sharma. At the end of 15 overs, RR was striking at 10 runs per over, sitting comfortably at 150/2. The end of the 16th over saw Stokes getting dismissed as he missed to capitalise on a full toss caught at deep mid-wicket by Shreyas Iyer. Stokes was soon dismissed, as the Capitals captain held on to a simple catch on the 5th ball of the 16th over. On the other end, Rahane grew from strength-to-strength, and brought up his 2nd Vivo IPL hundred. While Rahane was celebrating that achievement, Ashton Turner was dismissed for another duck. Stuart Binny replaced the Australian, and got into the act by hitting a boundary off Rabada. The capitals had a mini-comeback in the innings by some good death bowling by Morris. Binny hit the last ball of the 19th over for four to even things out. In the last over, Rabada cleaned up both Binny and Riyan Parag, beating them with his pace. RR ended the innings with 191 on the board, with the loss of 6 wickets. After being asked to bat first, this was a challenging total by RR and a difficult one to chase, especially considering the history. Ajinkya was at the top of his game and carried the bat for RR. Stuart Binny started the proceedings for RR. He looked in great shape and bowled a tad fuller, giving the ball a chance to swing and seam. He started well giving away only 3 runs in the first over. The opening duo of Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw knew they would have to start positively in pursuit of a stiff target. Dhawan took on Kulkarni straightaway hitting him for a four and six to deep square leg, continuing his form. Shreyas Gopal took charge of the new ball and Dhawan decided to attack the leg-spinner taking the aerial route with the ball coming nicely on to the bat. RR continued with the strategy of using five different bowlers for the Powerplay. The SMS wicket seemed to be extremely friendly to the batsmen as both the teams raced off to fifties in no time. Dhawal Kulkarni’s off cutter wasn’t working the way he intended to and Shikhar Dhawan made full use of that by hitting a four over mid-wicket and hit 14 runs off the last over the Powerplay and the capitals ended up with a score of 59 for no loss after 6 overs. Riyan Parag was handed over the duty of bowling to Prithvi Shaw as two youngsters faced off against each other. A short-ball was dispatched through the mid-wicket by Shaw. Dhawan flicked one for a single to reach to his fifty in the 7th over. Once again, Shreyas Gopal was our go-to man as he saw Dhawan advancing down the track and pitched the ball well outside off to see the left-handed opener getting stumped. The skipper of Delhi Capitals walked out to bat in the 8th over. He didn’t trouble the scorers much as RR struck twice in 2 overs, with Riyan Parag claiming his first Vivo IPL wicket. Rishabh Pant was the next man to walk in to the middle and he picked one that was sliding in to the leg-stump and hit it backward of square for a boundary. Despite the constant change in bowling, Shaw and Pant showed no signs of slowing down. By the end of the 15th over, Delhi reached a commanding position with a score of 142 for the loss of 2 wickets. Delhi now needed 50 runs off the last 5 overs. RR decided to attack by bringing in Jofra Archer to bowl the 16th over. Rishabh Pant brought up his fifty by flicking one down the leg side from Jofra for a maximum. Prithvi Shaw tried to up the ante from his end, but ended up giving a simple catch to Riyan at long-on. With the Delhi Capitals needing 30 off the last 3 overs, Dhawal Kulkarni was brought into the attack. Sherfane Rutherford, who was the next man in, slogged one over deep mid-wicket. Kulkarni backed himself and dropped in one short as Rutherford handed a simple catch to Riyan Parag at long-off. Jofra bowled the penultimate over and gave away only 5 runs off the first five balls keeping things quiet but Rishabh Pant got the last ball in the slot and hit for a six over long-on. Requiring only 6 runs off the final over, Pant finished things off with a six and the Capitals won the game with four balls to spare. RR batted brilliantly in the first innings and set up a difficult target for the Delhi Capitals. They started off really well but RR did manage to take wickets at crucial points of the game. Delhi ensured they never let the required run rate rise up and Rishabh Pant was there till the end to lead the Capitals to victory. The total was not enough on a batting paradise, and RR will now look ahead to the remaining season. Halla Bol!
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