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Smith And Pathan Script Remarkable Win For Rajasthan Royals

By on April 28, 2009

Rajasthan Royals

Rajasthan Royals 147 for 5 (Pathan 61*, Smith 44*, Mishra 3-34) beat Delhi Daredevils 143 for 7 (de Villiers 50, Vettori 29, Munaf 2-14, Mascarenhas 2-28) by five wickets…

Rajasthan Royals had Graeme Smith and Yusuf Pathan to thank for a big-hitting sixth-wicket stand that ensured a crucial win against Delhi Daredevils, unbeaten in the tournament. Equally significant, though, was Shane Warne’s tactic of sending the inexperienced batsmen up the order and keeping the bigger names for the pressure overs.

Ashish Nehra provided Delhi with the initial breakthrough, removing Rob Quiney while Amit Mishra worked his magic to leave Rajasthan reeling at 64 for 5. But Pathan – with 61 off 30 – and Smith scripted the best turnaround in the competition so far to ensure maximum points.

The powerful batting line-up that made Delhi Daredevils the favourites in the lead-up to the tournament faced its first serious challenge as Rajasthan Royals put in a collective performance, led by Munaf Patel, to rein them in. Delhi countered through AB de Villiers and Daniel Vettori – and were helped by intermittent fielding lapses – but Shane Warne’s tactic of shuffling bowlers kept the target within reach.

The start promised another run-feast. Virender Sehwag’s disdainful flick to the fine-leg boundary in the first over and an equally contemptuous smack over the bowler’s head indicated that India’s feared opening combination was threatening to live up to its reputation.

However, they failed once again to build on the start, falling in the same over from Dimitri Mascarenhas. Gambhir’s wicket was planned; Shane Warne had positioned himself perfectly at a widish slip, and when the opportunity presented itself, flung himself to his left to snap a blinder. Sehwag’s wicket was a gift, mistiming a mindless waft attempted to clear midwicket, just after he had struck a boundary the previous delivery.

Enter De Villiers. He came in after the first wicket and saw three more fall in quick succession but adapted to circumstances superbly, leading the revival from 49 for 4. Warne and Munaf, who both finished with two wickets each, were treated with respect but he attacked the moment they were taken off for the spinners. Ravindra Jadeja was smashed for two fours in his first over and Yusuf Pathan was welcomed with a swat over long-on as the run-rate picked up, with Vettori ensuring no break in the flow.

The partnership looked like taking Delhi to a more competitive score, and they had their moments of fortune – de Villiers survived a run-out chance and frequent fumbles gifted them extra runs. But de Villiers’ luck ran out when he got a dodgy decision – lbw off a ball from Warne that pitched outside leg – that brought Rajasthan back in the game.

Delhi continued to threaten, with Vettori and Mithun Manhas taking 25 off two overs from Warne and Kamran Khan. But Munaf swung the pendulum back Rajasthan’s way with a wicket maiden – the wicket of Vettori – at the death.

Though bowling hasn’t been a major worry for Rajasthan, with disciplined performances in each of their three completed games, surviving an explosive top-order was expected to be a stern test. However, a combination of poor shot selection and an ability to extract the most of the conditions gave them a genuine chance of ending Delhi’s run in the competition.

Siddhartha Talya is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo

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