Delhi dominate all fronts
Delhi Daredevils were considered favourites due to their strong batting and home advantage, but there was enough reason to believe Rajasthan Royals could extend their winning run. In the end, this was a lopsided contest that was settled by determined performances on all fronts from Delhi. Here's a look at how they came up trumps.
Gambhir and Karthik begin the recovery
Gautam Gambhir hadn't played a significant innings since Delhi's first game. Tonight he needed to bail Delhi out and found the perfect ally in Dinesh Karthik. The pair confidently saw out the threat of the spinners on a track taking turn. The ball dipped occasionally but Gambhir, smooth on his feet, and Karthik were alert.
Karthik scored ten runs from his first 11 deliveries, nine of which were bowled by spinners, and was beaten early by one from Shane Warne. Karthik isn't a batsman to commit to the front foot early, an asset on such tracks, and that came in handy. The pair's rotation of the strike was also exemplary, and they fed off each other very well. Gambhir dropped anchor, Karthik attacked and continued in the same vein after losing his partner.
Karthik steps up
The most significant role in Delhi's biggest win came from Karthik. His ability in this format is not lost on anyone, and his application was again remarkable. A batsman coming in at No. 6 in this format is usually expected to give it thump from the start, but given Delhi's early travails it was essential he revisit his approach.
Karthik did just that. Warne's threat negated, he backed himself to loot other bowlers. Once he'd passed 25, he cut loose. Three sixes came in four balls, each strokes of class: Siddharth Trivedi strayed onto the pads and Karthik played a gorgeous pick-up shot. Sumit Narwal pitched two length deliveries and they were dumped over long-off and long-on in a costly 17th over. The pace of the pitch had been a bit of a concern earlier, but now that Karthik had gauged it, the runs flowed. Shaun Tait was slammed for three successive fours the 18th over and a fourth six followed in the final over.
The knock was a personal triumph for Karthik, who had stepped up to captain when Gambhir was injured and oversaw two straight losses that sapped Delhi's momentum. Two evenings ago, Karthik had been out first ball to Ishant Sharma. But tonight he produced an inspired performance with the bat and in the field, featuring in four dismissals to bag the Man-of-the-Match award.
Maharoof strikes twice
If Rajasthan had stunned Delhi in the field early on, the home side returned the favour in quicker time. Delhi were without their strike bowler Dirk Nannes, ruled out for a week due to a finger injury. His replacement was Farveez Maharoof, who had been Delhi's most expensive bowler and hadn't played for over ten days. But an opening over that accounted for two wickets was something even Nannes hadn't managed this season. Maharoof bowled three overs mixed with clever legcutters, and finished with 2 for 13.
There's a reason Amit Mishra is tied on 11 victims with Muttiah Muralitharan as the tournament's highest wicket-taker. His bowling, bar one poor match, has been successful because he has preserved the fundamentals of conventional legspin. He's not been afraid to flight the ball and has used his googlies really well.
Mishra began with two short deliveries which Naman Ojha slapped to the boundary, but as soon as tossed the ball up and got it to loop, he was a handful. Ojha was drawn onto the front foot in defense, the ball broke away and Karthik held on to the outer edge. With his eighth delivery Mishra struck the decisive blow, getting Yusuf Pathan to hit one straight to long-on. The delivery? A slow, loopy legbreak. He then dismissed Adam Voges to finish with three for 25.
It's a wonder he didn't make India's squad for the ICC World Twenty20, while Piyush Chawla, who has averaged 40 this tournament and conceded eight-an-over, did.
Safe as houses
A fielder rarely wins a Man-of-the-Match award for his catching and throwing, but tonight David Warner put the case forward. His four catches and a direct hit run-out count as five wickets. Having failed with the bat, Warner made his presence felt early in Rajasthan's chase. Running back from mid-off after Michael Lumb chipped the second ball up in the air, Warner took a brilliant catch. He had to make good ground and then put in a stretch to get there. His reflexes trumped all else, with Warner just managing to clutch the ball with his left hand as he fell forward. On his knees, Warner faced the delirious spectators either side of the sight screen and raised his arms in jubilation.
Not too long after, Warner took the decisive catch of Yusuf while falling backward onto his rear in front of long-on. In a flash he kissed the ball and, winking, pointed at the fans behind him. In a short span of time, the New South Welshman has been wholeheartedly accepted by Delhi's fans and the roar that bellowed was testament.
Warner had a field day, literally, going on to flatten the stumps from mid-on to run out Warne first ball and holding his fourth catch later on. The achievement puts him tied with Sachin Tendulkar for most catches in an IPL match. Amazingly, nine of the ten wickets involved either Warner or Karthik.
Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo