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Monday, May 17, 2021

RR vs DC: Protea power boosts Royals

Proteas’ swagger and Unadkat’s clever deceptions take Royals home

Written by Vishal Menon | New Delhi |
Updated: April 16, 2021 2:59:30 pm
David Miller and Chris Morris, IPL 2021David Miller (L), the other Protea in the Royals squad, stepped in with an invaluable 43-ball 62. He was dismissed in the 16th over, but Chris Morris saw his team past the finish line. (Sportzpics)

Chris Morris, IPL 2021’s most expensive pick, proved his worth on a night pacers from both teams ruled the roost. In another pulsating, see-sawing duel, Rajasthan Royals edged past Delhi Capitals to the finish line with three wickets to spare, courtesy a sublime 63 from David Miller and four belligerent sixes from his South African team-mate Morris.

Proteas’ swagger

What do you do when your team requires 27 off 12 balls in an IPL game? If you’re Morris, you simply bludgeon four sixes to seal the game with two balls to spare. It was a finish that many didn’t see coming, especially after Delhi’s pacers led admirably by Chris Woakes, and well supported by Avesh Khan and Kagiso Rabada had put Royals in strife at 36/4 in the 8th over.

It all happened so soon that their dug-out hardly had much time to figure out what hit them. A 148-run target, which seemed gettable at the half-way stage, now looked miles ahead. If Royals’ pacers used deception, their counterparts from Delhi stirred up good, old-fashioned seam movement. The result was the second consecutive Royals’ top-order collapse.

Chris Woakes fooled his English team-mate Jos Buttler with a terrific delivery that jagged back off the seam to get an inside-edge to wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant. Woakes then had Manan Vohra spooning a simple catch to mid-off. Rabada joined in to remove captain Sanju Samson by getting him to nick an out-swinger to Shikhar Dhawan at slip. By the time, Avesh Khan got Shivam Dube to flash a length delivery to slip, the Royals looked down and out.

At that stage, they needed someone to play the sort of innings that Sanju had provided for them the other night against Punjab Kings. David Miller, the other Protea in the Royals squad, stepped in with an invaluable 43-ball 62. He was dismissed in the 16th over, but Morris saw his team past the finish line.

Unadkat’s clever deceptions

Left-arm seamers Jaydev Unadkat and Mustafizur Rahman underlined the importance of the slower delivery in a frenetic IPL game, as they bowled with skill, gumption and a lot of heart. Unadkat ripped through Delhi’s top-order inside the powerplay, while Mustafizur complimented him well to restrict Delhi to 147/8.

Surprisingly, on a track that offered a bit of zip, it was the slower delivery that accounted for three of the top four scalps. Unadkat led the charge by conning Prithvi Shaw with a fullish off-cutter, which elicited a leading edge to David Miller at point. Four overs later, another off-cutter deceived Ajinkya Rahane. Delhi slipped further into chaos after Mustafizur joined the party to snaffle Marcus Stoinis. The Bangladesh pacer comes with a repertoire that’s very much his own. Tonight, he showcased his latest trick — rolling his wrists to get ample bite off the surface. Together, they had Delhi reeling at 37/4 after seven overs.

Jaydev Unadkat Jaydev Unadkat of Rajasthan Royals during match 7 of the Indian Premier League 2021 between the Rajasthan Royals and the Delhi Capitals. (Sportzpics)

Following his breakthrough IPL season for the Rising Pune Supergiants in 2017, Unadkat has been much sought after by franchises at auctions for his skills as a death-overs specialist. However, he has struggled to replicate his success in the subsequent editions. In fact, he could muster just four scalps from seven games in the last season for the Rajasthan Royals. Worse still was his economy rate of 9.91, as he was taken to the cleaners during the fag end of the innings. Cut to IPL 2021: Unadkat was used inside the first half of Delhi’s innings, to return with figures of 3/15 from four overs.

Despite the early setbacks, Delhi were not willing to cave in. For a fleeting moment, they looked like orchestrating a stirring fightback with captain Rishabh Pant cutting loose and smoking into leg-spinner Rahul Tewatia for 20 runs in the 11th over.

A freak run-out cut short his innings just after he reached a half century. But their lower-order kept chipping away with vital contributions from Lalit Yadav (20), Tom Curran (24) and Chris Woakes (15 not out) that pulled them through to what looked like a par-score.

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