Smith and Pathan script remarkable win
Rajasthan Royals 147 for 5 (Pathan 61*, Smith 44*, Mishra 3-34) beat Delhi Daredevils 143 for 7 (de Villiers 50, Vettori 29, Munaf 2-14, Mascarenhas 2-28) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out
A brutal innings from Yusuf Pathan, a more sedate but no less important knock by Graeme Smith and another typically inspired tactical tweak from Shane Warne combined to script perhaps the most amazing turnaround of this tournament. Delhi Daredevils' first defeat of IPL 2009 also owed itself to some miserly bowling from a revived Munaf Patel and some sloppy fielding of their own.
Spin continued to play a major influence, as Amit Mishra rattled Rajasthan with a three-wicket burst to leave them reeling at 64 for 5 and needing 80 off nine overs. But Smith's assurance and Pathan's ability left Delhi shell-shocked; they held the cards for much of the innings but ended up with the joker.
A target of 144 was tricky given this was the IPL's first game here but Rajasthan would have backed themselves after a laudable performance with the ball. However, they made a meal of it thanks to a shoddy display by their rejigged top and middle order.
Rajasthan had already been pegged back by the time spin was introduced. Rob Quiney was pushed up to open but didn't last long, trapped in front by Ashish Nehra in the fourth over. Next to go was the impatient Swapnil Asnodkar, run out attempting an impossible run, and Paul Valthaty - included to beef up Rajasthan's misfiring batting line-up - who holed out at long-off off Mishra. At 34 for 3, Rajasthan were reeling and the ploy of pushing up the greenhorns seemed to have backfired.
Worse was to follow after the tactical break: Mishra struck back with two wickets in the 11th over, deceiving both Ravindra Jadeja and Shane Warne, who had promoted himself ahead of Pathan. 64 for 5 and an embarrassment seemed on the cards.
But Warne usually has a method to his apparent madness. In the middle for Rajasthan were Smith and Pathan, with the assurance of Dimitri Mascarenhas to follow. Pathan seemed to have taken up from where he left off in the Super Over against Kolkata Knight Riders. He needed two balls before unleashing his power. He first ended Daniel Vettori's enviable run, depositing him over deep midwicket off successive deliveries, and drilling one past him off the final ball to net 19 in a match-turning 13th over.
Delhi had their chances. Tillakaratne Dilshan missed an attempt to run Yusuf out in the very next over, and, when 31 were needed off 21 deliveries, Sangwan spilled a running catch at long-on, again off Yusuf, palming the ball to the boundary to seal Delhi's fate. The next ball disappeared for six, spoiling Mishra's figures, and Nehra's next over saw two short balls dismissed with ferocity into the stands to hasten Rajasthan's win.
If Yusuf was brute force, Smith was quite the opposite. With 19 runs in three innings he seemed eager to prove himself on home turf and his determination was clear as he flicked, nudged, dabbed and swept to ensure the runs kept coming. He kept his own natural game on hold, taking 14 overs to strike his second boundary. A combination of Yusuf's power game and Smith's measured tenacity put Rajasthan back in contention after a disappointing start to the tournament.
The batsmen owed much, though, to the bowlers, in particular Munaf Patel, who'd done an admirable job restricting Delhi to a gettable target. Though bowling hasn't been a major worry for Rajasthan, with disciplined performances in each of their three completed games, surviving an explosive top order was expected to be a stern test.
However, they benefited from a combination of poor shot selection and an ability to extract the most out of the conditions, limiting Delhi to 49 for 4, and offering their powerful batting line-up, which had made them favourties in the lead-up to the tournament, their first serious challenge. AB de Villiers and Daniel Vettori led Delhi's revival with an attacking 56-run stand that was ended by a dodgy decision against de Villiers, who was adjudged lbw to a ball from Warne that pitched outside leg. Despite, the setback, Delhi continued to fight, with Vettori and Mithun Manhas taking 25 off two overs from Warne and Kamran Khan. But Munaf swung the pendulum back Rajasthan's way with a wicket maiden - the wicket of Vettori - at the death.
Siddhartha Talya is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo