28th April 2009 - SuperSports Park, Centurion:  The Rajasthan Royals romped home with an emphatic 5-wicket win over the undefeated Delhi Daredevils at the SuperSport Park, Centurion. Having won the toss and electing to bat, the destructive Daredevils’ batting line-up would have been looking to pile up a score out of the reach of the struggling Royals’ batting line-up. However, Mascarenhas got rid of the destructive Delhi openers in the same over to give the Royals an initial edge. The in-form Dilshan and Karthik couldn’t do much either and the Daredevils were struggling at 49/4 in the eighth over. AB DeVilliers and Dan Vettori then repaired the innings courtesy a steady 56-run partnership.

Warne then got the prized scalp of DeVillers immediately after he completed his half century to ensure that the target did not get out of realms. However, a brilliant late assault by Mithun Manhas took the Devils to a respectable 143; a total that seemed fighting under the lights with the good bowling attack. Munaf was the pick of the Royals bowlers finishing with figures of 4-1-14-2. Warne later said that he had a chat with Munaf before the match and that clearly seemed to have helped. Mascarenhas and Warne also chipped in with 2-wickets a piece.

The target of 144 was always going to be challenging especially because the Royals top order had been struggling to get things going. The Royals opened with Smith and Quiney and things looked good until Quniey got a dubious LBW decision with the score on 20. Smith on the other end looked good and was looking to play a vital contribution in the run-chase. Asondkar came in next and whacked one to the fence and one out of the park, before being run out while attempting a suicidal run. Paul Valthaty did not last too long either and the Royals once again found themselves in a familiar position of being too many down for not too many.

Warne had probably decided to hold back his power hitters (Pathan and Mascarenhas) for the end and sent in Jadeja. Jadeja has been steady in the middle order and has played well in almost each innings. Smith and he looked to build the innings and get to a stage where they could then reply on the prowess of Pathan and Mascarenhas to sail the Royals home. However, Jadeja held out to long on immediately after the ‘strategic timeout’ and Warne followed 3-balls later. At the end of the eleventh over, things looked uphill for the Royals at 64/5.

The score line may have sounded that all is over for the Royals at 64/5 but they still had Smith and Pathan at the crease. The duo had a few good partnerships last season and would have needed one here as well if the Royals were going to get anywhere close to their target. After a quiet twelfth over, the asking rate shot off to over 9.5 runs. It was then that Vettori was introduced into the attack, who had been a miser with his economy in the tournament thus far. However, Pathan got stuck into him taking him for 19 in that decisive over – smashing two over the ropes. With the presence of the vastly experienced Smith, the Royals batsmen played smart cricket by picking up the ones and twos against the likes of Nannes and Sangwan; probably waiting to attack the spinners again. With 48 off 30, Pathan once again took charge and smashed the spin duo of Vettori and Mishra and suddenly the Royals were chasing only 17 of 18.

Nehra was the next to face the music off Pathan’s bat as he raced away to his 50 off successive sixes. Pathan smashed 6 sixes in his innings of 62 that came of just 30 deliveries. Smith too looked good as he carried his bat through the innings scoring a well-paced 44 of 46 ensuring a thrilling 5-wicket win. Smith later said the team knew they could get though with the power hitters coming in the end. Sehwag, took a taste of his own medicine but was happy for Pathan and said that he played very well hitting those huge sixes of Vettori.

Warne was delighted with the success and also thanked the crowds for their support. He added that Pathan’s striking was amazing and was happy that the move to hold back Pathan for the later overs paid off.


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