The Rajasthan Royals have four world-class players. It counts for nothing if they don’t win. Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes were brilliant against the Delhi Capitals, but that wasn’t enough to bring victory in IPL 2020 on Wednesday night.
Archer is easily one of the best fast bowlers in the world. He was near unplayable as Prithvi Shaw and Ajinkya Rahane found out. The English bowler’s fiery pace and movement had Delhi on the mat before Shreyas Iyer and Shikhar Dhawan forged an 85-run repair work.
Jos Buttler has no respect for speed. When Delhi’s speedster Anrich Nortje was cranking up over 155 kmph (the fastest delivery in cricket is 161.3 kmph by Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar), Buttler turned around scooped him over fine leg: twice in succession. His shot-making was incredible. Nortje had the last laugh, but imagine the carnage if Buttler (22 runs off 9 deliveries) had batted a few more overs.
Buttler and Stokes blasted 37 in 3 overs and that enabled Rajasthan to reach 50/2 in 6 overs when the powerplay ended. True, that helped Rajasthan maintain a good run rate throughout the innings, but a victory never materialised. Where did it all go wrong?
If Buttler or Stokes had batted 10 overs, the match would have been beyond Delhi’s grasp. That was essential since skipper Steve Smith and Sanju Samson haven’t been scoring well. And there isn’t much left in the late middle-order as was evident in the chase.
When a team needs 39 off 30 balls, how can you lose the match? Rajasthan did just that. When it becomes 22 off 6 balls (the last over), that reflects a severe lack of intent. Rahul Tewatia can’t work his magic every day, and a slow pitch and the pace and accuracy of Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada didn’t allow for liberties.
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Rajasthan could learn from Delhi. After early setbacks, rebuilding followed, but the last five overs yielded only 32. That’s mainly due to 19-year-old Kartik Tyagi landing his yorkers perfectly, and Jayadev Unadkat’s slower deliveries. But that didn’t prevent a spirited defence from the Delhi bowlers.
The blistering start from Buttler and Stokes, a cameo from Samson: none of that dulled Delhi. Nortje, Rabada, Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin kept coming back strongly even when they were taken for runs. New man Tushar Deshpande too got into the thick of things later on. They never gave up.
Talent alone is not enough. Determination and perseverance are required to make that talent work. That’s what Delhi showed in returning to the winning ways.