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Nair makes it an easy chase for RR

Rajat Bhatia, Rajasthan Royals’ veteran allrounder, had spoken of the unpredictable nature of the Feroz Shah Kotla wicket when they had gone into the innings break after giving away 152 runs to hosts Delhi Daredevils. The slow nature of the wicket didn’t let the DD batsmen score freely, and the visitors chased it down with seven wickets in hand in the end, almost wondering what the fuss was all about at the break.

RR opener Karun Nair batted through with an unbeaten 73 off 50 balls [8×4, 2×6], and handy contributions from Sanju Samson [34, 28b, 2×4, 2×6] and Bhatia himself condemned DD to a loss at a venue they call their fortress. Even though captain Shane Watson was in the middle at the end, RR didn’t require the muscle of any of their overseas batsmen for the majority of the innings as they ran their target down in 18.3 overs.

RR were identically placed to DD at the halfway stage, albeit with a wicket more in hand, and even though Samson fell to a stumping off Shahbaz Nadeem, Nair cashed in on what was indeed a placid track than what was made out to be by DD. In the UAE he lost his composure in a bid for quick runs, but here he was prepared to play the waiting game. Despite Anjinkya Rahane’s early departure, Samson and Nair put on 50 in a little over seven overs to put them on course.

DD’s decision to give a game to Rahul Sharma in place of Laxmi Shukla backfired, with the legspinner not being able to find his length, going for 32 from his three overs. Bhatia and Nair took 15 from his third, the 13th of the innings that effectively turned the game in RR’s favour.

No one besides Mohammed Shami proved effective, and even though Wayne Parnell also pitched in with the wicket of Rahane, he was taken apart owing to poor lines throughout his spell. Nathan Coulter-Nile’s absence has hurt DD with Parnell proving ineffective, but the general indiscipline from the DD bowlers proved to be the difference between the teams on a night RR would have been proud of keeping an accomplished batting order, at least on paper, from running away.

Earlier, it needed a monumental effort from JP Duminy and Kedar Jadhav to boost Delhi Daredevils’ total to 152 for 5, after a steady start had taken the team to 71 at the halfway stage when Kevin Pietersen and Quinton de Kock’s dismissals in the 10th over took the momentum out of their innings. De Kock [42, 33b, 5×4, 1×6] had ensured DD had not suffered too much despite the dismissal of Murali Vijay in the Powerplay.

Pietersen and de Kock had put on 36 but struggled to time the ball. The home side suffered most when Pravin Tambe removed both batsmen in the same over. Pietersen was induced into breaking free from the shackles, but found long-on in doing so, while de Kock handed a catch straight back to the bowler off the last ball of the over.

Dinesh Karthik struggled throughout his 16-ball stay that got him 12, put out of his misery by James Faulkner, RR’s next best bowler of the day after Tambe. DD needed a spark as they hadn’t crossed 100 after the 15th over, and Duminy found company in Jadhav, whose 14-ball 28 had stunned RR.

Duminy’s big-hitting pedigree is well-known, but Jadhav, the only player other than Pietersen to be bought back by DD at the auctions, and the highest run-getter in this Ranji Trophy season that fetched him 1223 runs, paid back a little bit of that faith with a cameo. Duminy fell in the final over in a bid to force the equation – out to a well-judged running catch from Bhatia inches away from the ropes – but their 46-run stand had given DD something to bowl at.

Brief scores: Delhi Daredevils 152 for 5 in 20 overs (Quinton de Kock 42, JP Duminy 39, Pravin Tambe 2/25, James Faulkner 2/26) lost to Rajasthan Royals 156 for 3 in 18.3 overs (Karun Nair 73, Sanju Samson 34, Mohammed Shami 1/22) by seven wickets.

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