Rajhastan Royals beat the Delhi Daredevils by seven wickets on Saturday thanks to a superb innings of 73 by Karun Nair. Chasing 153 to win, the Royals achieved the target with ease.
After losing the toss, Kevin Pietersen's Daredevils were put into bat and opener Quinton De Kock set his stall out from the very start.
A swashbuckling 42 peppered with boundaries saw the Daredevils get off to a great start even though fellow opener Murali Vijay departed early.
Pietersen himself will be disappointed to have his innings curtailed at 14 but only has himself to blame.
He had already been the beneficiary of come quite awful umpiring, noted by Ravi Bopara:
But always the man for a crowd-pleasing big-hit, a length delivery from Pravin Tambe tempted Pietersen, and Steve Smith took an easy catch.
Tambe wasn’t finished with De Kock’s wicket just three balls later.
JP Duminy and Dinesh Karthik pushed on the innings, taking the singles as often as practicable.
|Q De Kock||c&b Tambe||42||33||5/1|
|M Vijay||c Watson b Faulkner||13||11||1|
|K. Pietersen||c Smith b Tambe||14||15||2/0|
|KD Karthik||c Binny b Faulkner||12||16||0|
|JP Duminy||c Bathia b Richardson||39||31||4/1|
|KM Jadhav||not out||28||14||2/2|
|WD Parnell||not out||0||0||0|
|Extras||lb 3, w 1||4|
|Total||5 wickets, 20 overs||152|
They were very necessary as decent line and length from the Royals attack stopped the big scores, five overs passing without a single boundary.
With only five overs remaining it was time for the Daredevils to rack up some runs again and after Karthik had miscued James Faulkner’s delivery straight to Stuart Binny, Kedar Jadhav sensed the urgency with a monstrous six.
Duminy stroked a beautiful boundary through cover and a replica at the beginning of the 17th over. At 112/4 there was still work to do, however.
Try as they might, the Royals couldn’t break up the partnership and the amount of fours being conceded could hurt.
Another huge Duminy six was his last contribution, Kane Richardson having him caught on the ropes by Rajat Bhatia as the batsman unleashed another big shot.
Jadhav continued the good work and a six and four in the last three balls was expensive for the Royals who were left with 153 to win.
An unspectacular start to Royals response was quickly livened up by three second over boundaries, two to Ajinkya Rahane and one from Karun Nair.
A gift from bowler Wayne Parnell allowed Rahane to find the ropes again but his joy was short-lived as the very next ball a wild swing at a wide saw Rahane depart, Murali Vijay the delighted recipient at cover.
Sanju Samson felt his way into the game but my word did he unleash the power in the fifth over as two sixes sailed into the crowd.
|AM Rahane||c VIjay b Parnell||12||10||2/0|
|KK Nair||not out||73||50||8/2|
|SV Samson||st Karthik b Nadeem||34||28||2/2|
|R Bhatia||b Mohammed Shami||17||13||0/1|
|SR Watson||not out||16||10||0/2|
|Extras||lb 1, w 3||4|
|Total||3 wickets, 18.3 overs||156|
In much the same way as the Daredevils innings appeared to hit a brick wall, so the Royals went quiet and dot balls punctuated the odd run here and there. In the ninth Samson brought up the 50 partnership with Nair via another well-hit six, but two dot balls later a loss of balance whilst trying to connect saw his stumping by the lightning-quick reflexes of Karthik.
At just over halfway, 76/2 after 11 overs was a decent return, Nair taking the innings forward with aplomb.
Well supported for a few overs by Rajat Bhatia, Nair was comfortable at the crease. It wasn’t long before the former was removed, Mohammed Shami’s slow ball bamboozling Bhatia.
A captain’s innings was required from Shane Watson and a second-ball six was the right way to start.
Nair’s continued excellence saw him achieve a well-deserved 50 with three overs left of play.
Seventeen runs were required from 18 balls. Time for the Daredevils bowlers to step up. An immediate boundary from Nair off of the bowling of Parnell wasn’t what the doctor ordered for the Royals.
Watson survived a late run out via Parnell to smash him for six two balls later and Nair completed a wonderful personal innings by firing two fours to take his team to victory.
The win keeps the Royals just two points behind leaders Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings. The former suffered an astonishing loss at bottom-placed Mumbai Indians earlier in the day, and that win brings them to just two points behind the Daredevils.
A fixture against the Super Kings is probably not what Pietersen would have wished for, but he needs to rally his troops to ensure his under performing side don't finish up with the wooden spoon.