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Rahane-Dravid keep Royals’ home run going

Vijay Lokapally
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Rohrer’s half-century goes in vain as Daredevils come a cropper again in a lop-sided contest

WILD SWING:Virender Sehwag plays all over the ball and loses his stumps to James Faulkner.— Photo: R. V. Moorthy
WILD SWING:Virender Sehwag plays all over the ball and loses his stumps to James Faulkner.— Photo: R. V. Moorthy

Rajasthan Royals can do nothing wrong on home turf. Such is the team’s self-belief, and of course, the tentative approach of the opponent, Delhi Daredevils on this occasion, played a big part in the lop-sided nature of the Indian Premier League contest at the SMS Stadium here on Tuesday.

Daredevils made six changes and Rajasthan Royals two from their last combination. The home team had a player, Pravin Tambe, making his tournament debut at 41 but essentially it was a confident team playing confident cricket. The result came on the expected lines with Rajasthan Royals, thanks to a 108-run opening stand between Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane, recording a nine-wicket win, its seventh straight at home.

With Dravid at the helm, Rajasthan Royals has made significant progress as a team and his guiding influence has also helped his partners improve at the other end. Ask Rahane. He is a different batsman when he plays in the company of Dravid, who also bats quite aggressively these days but remembers to produce a couple of vintage drives in the ‘V’. Dravid’s fourth fifty of this edition and Rahane’s third, all in winning cause, lit up the evening for Rajasthan Royals and its supporters.

Dravid playing the lofted bowlers’ back drive, the inside-out shots and Rahane, the ‘man of the match', responding with a pull in front regaled the spectators as the sun dipped and lights shone. The ambience was festive and Dravid in a punishing mood, Daredevils failed to cope and caved in, following a sloppy show on the field.

Shot of the day

The shot of the day belonged to Rahane, six over cover off Morne Morkel. Daredevils enjoyed an eleven-run nine-ball opening over. An ominous beginning, with Virender Sehwag laying into James Faulkner, cracking two fours.

But he was deceived by a slower one, nicely concealed, the back-of-the-palm stealth bomber rattling the Daredevils camp in the second over.

It was a big blow since Sehwag held the key on this surface.

For C.M. Gautam, it was a bad debut, as he chased the ball too early and desperately.

And then some good work by David Warner and Mahela Jayawardena silenced the crowd. Shaun Tait was slammed around but Warner did not play for long, failing to judge the pace of the ball.

When Jayawardena followed soon, Daredevils had thrown away the advantage of the toss.

The newly-married Ben Rohrer played fluently. DD was threatening to dominate when Rohrer shone, clobbering the ball and sometimes guiding it between the gaps.

Dazzling innovation

One shot was a dazzling innovation, moving away to guide the ball between leg-slip and wicketkeeper. Some more shots behind the stumps scattered the tight web that Dravid had created with the bowlers sticking to the field. If Daredevils could set the opposition a target that needed planning to scale, credit to Rohrer.

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