The problem with a game that pits a superbly performing side with one that is yet to find its feet is that the contest ends up being one sided, more often than not and this is what exactly happened at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera, Ahmedabad on May 15, 2014.
Team composition: Both the teams made some changes from their last game, which they both lost. For Rajasthan Ankit Sharma, skipper Shane Watson and Dishant Yagnik were benched and in came Dhawal Kulkarni, Ben Cutting and Sanju Samson. For Delhi, Quinton de Kock, Murali Vijay and Mohammad Shami were asked to sit out while Manoj Tiwary, Ross Taylor and Shahbaz Nadeem came back to the team.
Batting: The Daredevils won the toss and opted to field first, which was surprising given they had three spinners in the side and plenty of batsmen as well as only two quick bowlers. Royals took the cue and raced to 201/6 in 20 overs with Rahane top scoring with 64 from 50 balls. Kevon Cooper, promoted to number 3, hit 32 from 16 balls and Samson got 40 from 25 balls. James Faulkner played well for his 23 from 8 balls thus boosting the total significantly in the end.
Chasing a big total, Daredevils never got off to the perfect start that they needed. Tiwary, on a comeback trail, remained unbeaten with a combative 61 from 44 balls but there was absolutely no sizeable contribution from anyone else that could have threatened the Royals.
Bowling: Imran Tahir was the best bowler for DD with 2 for 25 and Nadeem picked up 2 for 35 in 4 overs. JP Duminy, who opened the bowling, claimed 1 for 25 from 3 overs. Rahul Shukla (none for 44 in 4 overs) and Siddharth Kaul (34 from 3 overs) were highly expensive and their lack of economy meant Tiwary had to turn his arm over – the part time leggie ended up conceding 28 runs in 2 overs.
The quality of RR’s bowling in this particular game can be gauged from two facts. First, Faulkner who happens to be their premier bowler needed to bowl a solitary over and there too he picked up 1 wicket for 6 runs and all the other bowlers took wickets. Rajat Bhatia was once again the hero for the RR with 2 for 18 in 3 overs with his gentle medium pace. Kulkarni (1 for 24), Cutting (1 for 31), Cooper (1 for 19 in 3 overs), Pravin Tambe (1 for 24 in 3 overs) and Suart Binny (1 for 14 in 2 overs) all performed well to make sure that DD never even got close.
Where do the teams go from here?
Rajasthan Royals would be happy with how they have performed in this game but still there are a couple of questions to be asked in this context. Why did Steven Smith, who was the captain for this game, not bat? Secondly, who would miss out once Watson comes back? An embarrassment of riches is always a good position to be in for any side and Rajasthan Royals won’t be any exception. They are now in an enviable position where almost all the main members of the squad have had some time in the middle. They need to ensure that they continue in this vein for the next few games.
Deli Daredevils, on the other hand, seem to be suffering from the problem of muddled thought processes. They are packing their team with batsmen and spinners, yet opting to bat second, which is always a recipe for disaster. It is strange that with such a celebrated think tank comprising Gary Kirsten, a World Cup winning coach and skipper Kevin Pietersen, himself a well known international cricketer, they fail to understand that in a short form 7 batsmen are not needed in a team – there needs to be a good balance. The tournament seems to be over for them. However, one hopes that they have learnt their lessons and will come back strong in the next few games.