Delhi Daredevils v Rajasthan Royals
Wed 02nd May 2018
Delhi - Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium

There must be something about Royals v Daredevils matches which upsets the weather gods – because as fans arrived for this fixture, the heavens opened again and a deluge descended. It was a real sense of déja vu after what happened in the reverse fixture at Jaipur. There were fears that the game might not get played at all – but finally the rain relented and it was all systems go.

Rajasthan named an unchanged 11, with the exception of D’Arcy Short coming back in to replace Sodhi as the fourth overseas player. Jinks won the toss and decided to insert the opposition, perhaps taking into account the weather conditions and a possible Duckworth Lewis revised total, which generally favours the team batting second, although it didn’t work out like that last time around against Delhi!

There was early joy for the Royals – a wicket falling in the first over, Kulkarni removing the dangerous Munro for a golden duck – but then Privthi Shaw and Shreyas Iyer started to boss the Royals attack. By the end of the seventh over, Delhi were on 68 for 1. Taking into account this was now 18 overs a side it was already looking like Delhi’s game to lose.

Rajasthan desperately needed a wicket to try to stem the tide, and Jinks turned to spin in the 8th over in the hope he would get it. Gopal duly delivered the perfect riposte to being hit for 6 by snaring Privthi caught and bowled for a fine 47 from 25 balls. He’d deserved a half century for his sparkling knock but it wasn’t to be. Next batsman in was Rishabh Pant and Gopal immediately tied him up with three dot balls.

The Rajasthan bowlers have stopped and reversed onslaughts in the last two matches – could they do the same here? Those hopes were slightly dented when Pant hit the last ball off the Gopal over for a massive six. It was to be a sign of things to come.

Next up Big Ben Stokes. So far in this IPL he hasn’t really fired with the ball. Tonight would be a great time to do it. He seemed to be bowling a fair click faster than in previous matches, perhaps motivated by Archer coming into the team and bowling at a rapid rate of knots. One Stokes scorcher went through Pant before he had time to sniff it. However, the over still went for 8, with a four from the last ball.

Delhi were already 88 for 2 from 9 overs and like the rain clouds earlier, Rajasthan’s prospects were looking gloomy. For Over 10, skipper Rahane turned to Jofra Archer in the hope he could provide one of his miracles. With three wickets in each of his last two matches he was certainly the Royals bowler most in form. Sadly he was soon being sent to the ropes – this time by Shreyas with an inelegant but effective swipe to square point. Jofra’s over went for 11 with another mighty six taken off the last ball. With Shreyas seeing the ball so well, it was now raining sixes rather than water.

Unadkat next up, and a big over from him very much on the Royals fans’ wishlist. After being the best bowler in the tournament last year he has struggled to make an impact this time round. It isn’t for want of trying – and he steamed in to bowl to Pant. However, the batsman hooked a ball from right in front of his nostrils for four – falling over in the process. Delhi were going great guns – there seemed to be no stopping them.

At the end of the 11th over, the Daredevils total was 109 for 2 and Jinks had to come up with something quickly to avoid the game slipping away. Gowtham was summoned to the fray – many Royalistas favourite player after his heroics against Mumbai – but even he soon ended up being unceremoniously dumped into the stand. When batsmen are throwing the kitchen sink at the bowling and not missing there isn’t much that can be done – apart from wait for a rare mistake or a bit of good fortune. Neither prospect seemed to be realistic in the short term as another over went for many – and the fifty partnership came up, Pant racing to 31 from just 17 balls.

Kulkarni had got a wicket in the first over of the match – could he get one now? Would Over 13 prove unlucky for the Royals or for Delhi? Sadly, it was the former, another Rajasthan bowler coming in for heavy punishment – it not helping that three of Kulkarni’s balls were wides.

By the end of Over 13, Delhi were 145 for 2 and looking set for a humungous total – even taking into account the fact that their innings would be two overs short of the full complement because of the weather. Looking at it positively, that’s two overs less hard toil for the Royals bowlers! Pant brought up his 50 during a Stokes over and soon followed it up with a spectacular six. Shreyas Iyer followed him onto the half century board a few balls later – his 50 taking 34 balls, a bit slower than Pants but impressive nevertheless.

It started to become apparent that it wasn’t going to be Rajasthan’s night when a ball cannoned off the wickets from an attempted run out and deviated past Ben Stokes for four. Unadkat managed to remove Iyer, with the help of Tripathi staying calm under a skier, but with the score on 166 for 3 half way through the 14th over, the strategic time out would have been time for some stern words from the skipper.

When play resumed, Pant continued where he left over – smashing the ball for 6. That took him to 69 from 28 balls and no doubt eyeing an amazing century – but Unadkat and Stokes had different ideas. The safe hands of Stokes did the business on the boundary edge and the Pants knock was over, but was it too late? With the total on 172 and with three overs left, the Royals were clearly going to be set a stiff target.

Soon Archer was dispatched over the rope and then edged to third man for four – it seemed that everything the Royals bowlers were trying was coming up short. A slow bouncer called a wide – give it width and it’s edged for four – miss the block hole by inches and it goes for six. No time to be a bowler!

Going into the last two overs the only question was, could the Royals keep Delhi under 200? With just 13 runs required the odds were against – but if wickets keep falling who knows? Unadkat removed Shankar for 17, Tripathi catching another huge skier. He is clearly more at home in the deep than at slip.

Two new batsmen at the crease, Maxwell and Plunkett, perhaps that would put the brakes on the run scoring a little. Indeed it did, and with one over to go Delhi were on 196. Surely they would still reach 200 though? Not necessarily when Jofra bowls a Jaffa first ball and pins Maxwell in front of his stumps LBW. Rather bizarrely the Aussie appealed the decision – it looked plumb from every angle.

But then, just with the Royals fighting their way back into the game the rain again descended. It seemed Mr Duckworth and Mr Lewis might again be summoned to help decide a Daredevil v Royals contest…

And indeed they were – 151 runs needed from 12 overs – wow! To have a chance Rajasthan would have to get off to a flyer. And when it comes to flying – forget Boeing and

Concorde, think Buttler. He absolutely exploded from the start and by the end of the fourth over, the Royals were 58 for no wicket with Jos on a remarkable 48 from 17 balls.

He bought up his 50 with a sensational six off Mishra. 54 runs from 18 balls was reminiscent of Pathan and Watson in their Royals pomp. At the other end D’Arcy Short was very much the supporting actor – he was on 8 runs from 9 balls and needing to accelerate fast - or he could look to push singles for a while and give the Englishman the strike... The main thing was no dots, with over 12 runs required an over every ball was precious and needed scoring from. Interestingly the Delhi bowlers delivered easier to hit balls to Buttler. It was like he was intimidating them with his scoring prowess and throwing them off their stride. The England star was striking boundaries all round the wicket with some incredible stroke play – a joy to watch and a wagon wheel that the cast of Rawhide would be proud of.

TV shots of the Delhi dugout featured an array of heads being scratched and shoulders being shrugged as another six flew over the boundary. Jos was seeing the small leather object like a massive melon – finding it almost magnetically attracted to his iron willow. He was clearly a man on a mission – so far in this IPL he has played some lovely little cameos but he wants to boss the tournament, and this was his chance to do it.

It was all going so well – until he galloped down the wicket and Mishra bamboozled him. Pant had an eternity to whip off the bails and he did so with a look of sadness in his eyes, maybe he was enjoying the Buttler show as much as the crowd, maybe it was wicket keeper batsman brotherhood – either way Jos was on his way back to the dug out with the applause of an appreciative crowd ringing in his ears.

Next in Sanju Samson, skipper Rahane selflessly dropping himself down the order. 68 runs required from 30 balls and nine wickets in hand. To achieve that daunting goal, Short would need to start firing and Sanju would need to continue the form he’d showed earlier in the tournament.

Plunkett bowled the eight over and D’Arcy struggled to read his variations until ball 6, which with much relief all round he sent over the square leg boundary. It was still a big ask though, 59 runs from the last four overs. More than two runs a ball is always a bowlers’ game – but would that be the case this time?

It didn’t look that way when Sanju holed out to Munro at square leg from the bowling of Trent Boult. Two quick wickets and the game was slipping away. Cue Ben Stokes – could he deliver a miracle? His English colleague Jos had excelled – hopefully Big Ben could do the same.

Sadly it wasn’t to be – a full toss which should have ended up outside the ground instead finished up in the grateful hands of square leg and despite a review Stokes was on his way for 1. Next in Tripathi. He’s had a quiet tournament so far, how wonderful it would be for him to see his team home tonight.

But 51 needed from 18 balls and Mishra bowling is a challenging prospect. A D’Arcy Short six off his first ball was a nice start though! And then another – a beautiful on drive. And then a third maximum – crikey Mr D’Arcy! Sadly Ball 4 ended up in Avesh’s hands at short third man rather than in the stand, but those three humungous blows had reignited the contest.

After his wonderful innings against Mumbai, it was no surprise to see Gowtham in next. 30 runs required from the last two overs – if the Royals pulled this off it would go down in the annals of sporting history.

Plunkett summoned to bowl the penultimate over. First ball – a swing and a miss. Next ball, a short one, sent to the boundary with one bounce, Honours even. Sixes required though -

not a dot as was the case with the third ball. Next ball hammered down the ground right off the middle – but stopped before reaching the rope. Just a single. Fifth ball a lucky four off the top edge of Gowtham’s bat. Sixth ball – no luck required! Straight off the meat of the bat and straight over square leg – six!

15 needed off the last over – game on! The first ball of Boult’s last over was going to be critical. It was a wide. A bit more pressure on Boult – but the next ball is much straighter and much slower, only a single as Tripathi mistimes it. 13 runs required from five balls and Gowtham facing. One of his sixes would come in very nicely – but it only goes for 2. 11 runs from four balls and a boundary needed quickly. Only a bye achieved. Tripathi facing. Ten from 3 needed, but a swing and a miss from the Indian and then to compound his misery he is run out as they attempt a bye.

Ten from two – Gowtham sends the ball high into the sky – is it far enough for a six? No – but it is fumbled over the line for a four. The Royals are still in it! Six required from the last ball. The excitement! Can Gowtham produce another miracle? Sadly not – a good ball can only be sent for a single and Delhi emerge victorious by four runs.

Another great Royals match and a big positive in the form of a superlative innings from Jos Buttler.

Keep the faith Royals fans, if all our big guns come off this team could still go all the way!

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