Cooper last-over seals victory for Royals
Rajasthan Royals 165 for 7 (Dravid 65, Binny 40, Yadav 4-24) beat Delhi Daredevils 160 for 6 (Warner 77, Cooper 3-30) by 5 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
An electric late rally in the field, completed by a stoic over of pinpoint yorkers from Kevon Cooper, saw Rajasthan Royals begin their IPL campaign with a thrilling five-run win over Delhi Daredevils at the Feroz Shah Kotla. Daredevils were hurtling towards their target after 17 overs, with only 22 runs to get, and a flourishing David Warner at the crease. But Cooper ignited his side with a five-run over in the 18th that ended with a wicket, before a direct hit from acting captain Brad Hodge at cover dismissed Warner in the penultimate over, to give his side hope of a still-unlikely victory.
Nine runs were required off Cooper's final over, but the bowler delivered six yorkers, two of which dismissed panicking Daredevils batsmen, and provided the IPL's first week with its second nail-biting result. Johan Botha was out lbw, attempting a reverse paddle with seven required from four, before Andre Russell also fell trying to hit the ball fine with six needed from two, only this time Cooper cleaned him up. New man Naman Ojha had to hit a six off the last ball for Daredevils to salvage victory, but could not connect with a wide yorker, sparking ecstatic celebrations from Royals.
Daredevils' death-over meltdown almost mirrored Royals' returns from the same period of their innings, after the visitors had managed just six runs from their last two overs, and lost four wickets. Royals had arrived in the 18th over at 159 for 3, and were eyeing a 180-plus total that seemed par on a good batting surface. They however lost four batsmen in six balls, including Rahul Dravid, whose immaculately paced 65 off 51 held the team's innings together.
Dravid had arrived at Kusal Perera's demise in the third over, and aside from a controlled edge to the third man fence first ball, was largely content to collect singles to begin with, despite the fielding restrictions. When the bowlers erred, as Andre Russell did when he served up a wide delivery in the sixth over, Dravid's placement and timing ensured the desired boundary was achieved.
He was dropped twice in the 12th over, when he began to introduce more aggression to his innings, but he was undeterred, and having made only 22 from his first 26 deliveries, he quickly achieved a more laudable strike rate through the middle overs.
For Daredevils, Warner was also relatively reticent to begin with, allowing opening partner Unmukt Chand to provide the early innings impetus, and striking at no better than a run a ball until the tenth over of the innings. When he eventually exploded in earnest, with two fours off Rahul Shukla in the 13th over, Daredevils appeared to be executing a measured chase.
Warner was dropped early in his innings, and had one more reprieve just after hitting fifty, as he continued to maul some indifferent Royals bowling through the middle overs. Just before Daredevils hit their wall, Warner launched Siddharth Trivedi in the 17th over for 13. After Warner's demise however, none of the Daredevils batsmen seemed capable of finding the boundary, and Royals achieved revenge for the mighty close defeat they had suffered last year, in the same fixture.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here