Batsmen set up big win for Royals
Rajasthan Royals 201 for 6 (Rahane 64, Samson 40, Tahir 2-25) beat Delhi Daredevils 139 for 9 (Tiwary 61*, Bhatia 2-18) by 62 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Rajasthan Royals took another step towards the playoffs, crushing bottom-placed Delhi Daredevils for their seventh win. The defeat also ended a very slim chance Daredevils had of making the top four. Royals were ahead right through the game after being asked to bat on a pitch that got slower as the game progressed, a decision Kevin Pietersen later conceded was wrong.
Ajinkya Rahane provided the base with a steady 64, Kevon Cooper and Sanju Samson the momentum in the middle, and James Faulkner the finishing flourish as Royals racked up 201 for 6. Pietersen had backed his batsmen to chase whatever Royals scored, but Daredevils crumbled without much fight, most of it coming from Manoj Tiwary, who was unbeaten on 61.
Rahane and Karun Nair got Royals going with an opening partnership of 44 in 5.3 overs. The new ball in the first innings was probably the best time to bat on the pitch, and Rahane was away with a series of fours. Nair caught up when he lofted Siddarth Kaul for a couple of boundaries, but was caught in front next over by Shahbaz Nadeem.
Cooper had come in at No. 10 in his only game of the season before tonight. He was sent in at No. 3 to go after the bowling, and he did exactly that, swatting three sixes in a 16-ball 32. The spinners were operating at that time, and with the pitch turning, Royals might have stalled. Cooper, although he never looked in control, did not allow that to happen. When one of his mis-hits finally went to a fielder, Samson came in and ensured there was no let-up in the scoring, lofting and flat-batting Kaul for two sixes in the 15th over.
Rahane had been going at just over run-a-ball at the other end, but he opened up in the next over as Royals surged to a big finish. Rahul Shukla was taken for three fours behind square leg in the 16th over, once by Samson and twice by Rahane. The opener swung Nadeem for six over deep midwicket in the following over before he was bowled for 64 off 50.
Imran Tahir bowled a superb 18th over, conceding only two and removing Stuart Binny with a googly and Samson, for 40 off 25, with a legbreak. Seeing that, Pietersen decided to give the penultimate over to part-timer legspinner Tiwary, whose only over earlier had gone for 11. Ben Cutting and Faulkner swung him for a six each. Faulkner hit two successive ones over long-on off Shukla in the last over to push Royals past 200. Royals had taken 77 off the final six overs, despite Tahir.
Mayank Agarwal hit a few fours off the new ball, but after he failed to clear mid-off in the third over, Daredevils quickly fell apart. Dinesh Karthik swung a Dhawal Kulkarni slow bouncer to fine leg, and the slow bowlers came on to squeeze Daredevils further.
JP Duminy could not keep a cut down off Pravin Tambe, and Rajat Bhatia's leg rollers took care of Pietersen and Ross Taylor. Tiwary and Kedar Jadhav were the last batting pair at 58 for 5 in the 10th over but a direct hit from Cutting separated them.
Tiwary hung around till the end, but reducing the margin of defeat was to no avail when the campaign had already ended.
Abhishek Purohit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo