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Belligerent top order gives Daredevils enough to edge out Royals

Delhi Daredevils 196 for 6 (Pant 69, Iyer 50) beat Rajasthan Royals 146 for 5 (Buttler 67, Short 44, Boult 2-26) by four runs (DLS method)

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Manjrekar: Expected the revised target to be much steeper

Shaun Tait talks about Delhi Daredevils' line-up and how they paced their innings towards the end

Delhi Daredevils had a lot of things different about them against Rajasthan Royals in their second meeting of the season - the captain had changed, the batting order was different and they'd posted a massive score batting first. It was a rain-curtailed game again, but this time they managed a different result too to rise above Mumbai Indians at the bottom of the table.

Defending 150 in 12 overs, Daredevils came under a brutal attack from the promoted Jos Buttler, whose 18-ball fifty helped Royals smash down more than half the required runs with six overs and ten wickets still in hand. But a middle-order slide engineered by Amit Mishra and Trent Boult saw Daredevils pull things back.

Earlier, Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant had combined to put up 166 of the 196 runs Daredevils made in 17.1 overs.

Young and free

When he lost the toss, Iyer said conditions would be easy and "not dewy" when his team went out to bat. Just over 20 minutes later, the groundstaff were pulling the covers on to keep the outfield dry. The rain reduced the game to 18-overs-a-side.

Colin Munro faced his first ball against Royals this season, but when his inside edge against Dhawal Kulkarni was taken by Buttler, it became his second duck against them. Royals, who had replaced Rahul Tripathi with Ben Stokes at first slip, barely found another edge after that.

First, they got acquainted with the middle of Shaw's bat, which often met the ball above waist height but always with full control; the teenager, not the tallest of men, frequently stayed put in his crease and followed rising short-of-a-length deliveries with just his hands to comfortably clear the infield, in the 'V'. In the middle of all that, he mistimed a full toss and offered a return catch in the third over that Kulkarni couldn't hold on to. It took a change in pace - the legspin of Shreyas Gopal - to get Shaw as he tried to hit another one through the line. He had made 47 off 25.

The finishing touches

Pant has taken a couple of balls in the mid-riff this season while attempting to play the hook shot. Essentially, his falling over into the off side when the ball is pitched short has put him in trouble often.

It's not something he has tried to remedy, though. After copping one on the body from a Stokes bouncer, the left-hander continued to get inside the line of the ball when it was pitched short and even managed a six on one instance as he tried to avoid flicking the off stump with his back leg. He made 24 runs behind the square region.

The rest of his runs came where they usually do - through the covers and at cow corner. Pant hit at least three boundaries through the off side that couldn't have been more than five yards away from the closest fielder. They were just as helpless on those occasions as they were when he slugged three sixes on the leg side. In his 50th T20 match, this innings of 69 off 29 was the perfect tribute.

At the other end, Iyer made his fourth fifty in five games as a sorry Royals attack's most economical bowler went at 9.33.

The Buttler special

In a team trying to jam several specialist openers into the top order, Buttler had been reduced to the No. 5 slot. But Royals decided they needed him at the top to set the tone for a very steep chase, that was revised to 151 from 12 overs, and he delivered like only he does - with flat drives over the bowler, loopy ramps over the keeper and indiscreet slaughtering of short deliveries. Avesh Khan, with his predisposition for hitting the deck and skidding the ball on, was perhaps exactly what Buttler has been looking for in a season where he hadn't yet made 30-plus. On the night, he made 34 in 10 balls of just Avesh.

The moments that could've changed things

When Iyer tossed the ball to Glenn Maxwell with 52 required off three overs, it was ideal for Royals - Short hit the first three balls for sixes and fell off the fourth. In doing so, he had made the runs against the part-timer and also allowed for finisher K Gowtham to come in. Iyer then kept them in it a second time. With 10 to win off the two balls, he not only dropped Gowtham at deep midwicket, but also conceded four runs.

However, a mishap during the 15th over of Daredevils' innings might have made the biggest difference. Jaydev Unadkat's second ball was an offcutter that deflected off Pant's glove into Buttler's path. The wicketkeeper shied at and hit the non-striker's stumps as the batsmen ran through.

The ricochet had rolled harmlessly towards Stokes who was backing up in the mid-off region. But the allrounder had barely made it halfway to the ground with his lazy effort to the left as Daredevils picked up four overthrows.