Another tense finish and another result in which the fielding team pulled off a win even though the odds were heavily stacked in the batting side’s favour. This time, Rajasthan Royals put it across Delhi Daredevils at the Feroz Shah Kotla as the batsmen from the home team unnecessarily panicked under pressure, as a result of which a superb knock by their opener David Warner went in vain. Like Mumbai Indians should have, a couple of days back against Royal Challengers Bangalore, this was also a game Delhi should have won, but they failed to hold their nerve when it mattered most.
The match was in Delhi’s grasp throughout during their chase of 166, and something special was needed for one of the Royals’ bowlers to turn the tide around. That excellent performance came from Kevon Cooper, who continued the impressive form he showed in the last season. Until the 17th over of the chase, the game was firmly under Delhi’s control, with Warner still at the crease, looking well set. But Cooper’s two overs at the death set the cat among the pigeons in the Delhi camp. They just couldn’t handle the pressure even as Cooper remained super cool in tense circumstances.
The dismissal of Manprit Juneja for 20 at the end of the 18th over game the Royals some hope. It also helped their cause that Cooper only conceded five runs in that over, keeping the ball in areas from where the batsmen found it hard to score. Delhi were still in with a decent chance, needing nine off the last over, but Cooper came up with some brilliant yorkers to entangle the Delhi batsmen, and pull off the unlikely win for the Royals. As for Delhi, it must be said that Johan Botha and Andre Russell played poor shots to accentuate Delhi’s woes.
To be fair to the latter Delhi batsmen, it wasn’t a pitch where you could just walk in and score runs. This is where Warner’s dismissal with only nine deliveries left turned out to be game changing. The Aussie left-hander had played some brilliant shots to almost single-handedly lead the hosts to the doorstep of victory. But, a smart piece of fielding from Brad Hodge helped them see the back of Warner. Only 13 were needed from nine balls when Warner was dismissed, but even that proved impossible for the Daredevils to achieve, an exemplification of how well Cooper bowled at the death.
When the Royals batted first, they themselves ended up with a lower score that they should have, especially after a wonderfully composed half-century by their skipper Rahul Dravid, who proved once again that games can be won in T20 even without using brute force. The partnership between Dravid and Stuart Binny, who rollicked his way to 40, was extremely significant. Although the Royals also collapsed at the fag end of their innings, the difference between the two sides was that while Dravid found an able ally in Binny, Warner did not find any.
Turning point of the game: Undoubtedly, Warner’s run-out in the penultimate over. Had he been at the crease, Delhi should have won the clash comfortably.
--By A Cricket Analyst