Like it has happened so many times, Rajasthan Royals’ young opener batted through what could have been a tricky chase to lead his side home. It was, however, not Ajinkya Rahane but 22-year-old Karun Nair who batted with composure to win his side the game with nine balls and seven wickets to spare. The Karnataka batsmen had failed in his last two innings, but did not let that affect him as his unbeaten 73 off 50 balls meant Kevin Pietersen could not lead Delhi Daredevils to a home win at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.
The usually reliable Rahane was dismissed by Wayne Parnell in the third over of Rajasthan’s chase of Delhi’s 152, but Nair didn’t panic. The Kotla wicket was slow (Rajasthan’s leggie Pravin Tambe, with 2/26, had earlier had a good time) and Delhi had two spinners. It seemed Rajasthan may not have it straightforward. But as Nair manned one end, Sanju Samson took charge and scored his first boundary of Jaidev Unadkat. Nair had earlier on-driven Shami for his first boundary but after that he was content to give the strike to his in-form partner. Nair, at one point, had made just 10 off 15 balls but Samson was making up for it with his 28-ball 34.
Just as the chase was gathering pace, Samson lost his composure to Nadeem and was stumped. The bowler who had been hit for a six and a four earlier in the over, got his reward. Nair was on 22 off as many balls at that time and Rajasthan were 71/2 in 10 overs.
No turning back
Royals sent Rajat Bhatia in, expecting quick runs. Nair got going in 12th over, off Jaydev Unadkat. The bowler dropped one short and found himself gazing towards the midwicket boundary over which the ball had flown. That was Nair’s first six and after that there was no turning back.
Bhatia departed after doing his brief (he made 17 off 13 with a six) and with Nair keeping the runs coming at one end, the arrival of Shane Watson only accelerated the win for Rajasthan. At this stage, Rajasthan needed 38 off 30 balls, but with wickets in hand it was not going to be a problem. Watson smashed two sixes off the 10 balls while Nair smashed Unadkat again over the ropes at long on, finishing the game off with two more boundaries off the same bowler in the 19th. Despite the eight fours and two sixes he hit, the feature of his batting was his 19 singles and five doubles.
Earlier, it was a familiar story for Delhi who once more relied on Quinton De Kock and JP Duminy with the rest continued…