Rajasthan Royals consolidated their chances of making it to the play-offs of the seventh edition of IPL on Thursday with a magnificent 62-run victory over a listless Delhi Daredevils, who are already out of the play-off contention.
Chasing a mammoth target of 202, Delhi Daredevils kept on losing wickets at regular intervals and only managed 139 for the loss of 9 wickets at the end of 20 overs. Manoj Tiwary was lone warrior in the Delhi line-up with his unbeaten 61.
Delhi skipper Kevin Pietersen completely read the pitch wrong as he invited Rajasthan Royals to make best use of the conditions piling up their season's best score of 201 for six.
Ajinkya Rahane (64), Sanju Samson (40), Kevon Cooper (32) and James Faulkner (23) all made merry against a below par Delhi attack.
In reply, Delhi batsmen never had the technique to win a match on a pitch that got slower with each passing over as they slumped to their ninth defeat in the tournament.
Rajasthan now have 14 points, four ahead of their nearest rival Kolkata Knight Riders.
Manoj Tiwary fought well for his 61 but Delhi were never in the game right from the beginning of the match.
Mayank Agarwal (17) was done in by a slower delivery from James Faulkner as stand-in captain Steve Smith grabbed an easy catch at mid-off.
Dinesh Karthik (3), who was bought for a whopping 12.5 crore, again flattered to deceive as he mistimed a slow bouncer from Dhawal Kulkarni to be caught by Ben Cutting at fine leg boundary.
JP Duminy (8) hit Tambe for a six but the 'Grand Old Man' of IPL had his revenge with a googly which Duminy played into the hands of Karun Nair standing at point.
Kevin Pietersen (13) should have been adjudged run-out when he was on three as he was caught short of crease with substitute Unmukt Chand hitting the stumps. Umpire S Ravi shocked everyone as he didn't even consult the third umpire just like now ousted Sanjay Hazare did against the same team in Delhi.
Pietersen's agony increased as the pitch got slower and Rajat Bhatia varied the pace and length making it virtually impossible as he was bowled trying a hoick. Ross Taylor (4) also committed early to a slower delivery giving a simple return catch to Bhatia. Within first 10 overs, the match as a contest was as good as over with half of the team in the dug-out.
Tiwary's poor call saw a mix-up resulting in Kedar Jadhav's (3) run-out and formalities were left from there on.
Earlier, Ajinkya Rahane once again anchored the innings to perfection while Sanju Samson played another flamboyant knock as Rajasthan piled up their season's highest score of 201 for six.
Put into bat, Rahane scored a stylish 64 off 50 balls while Samson smashed his way to 40 off only 25 deliveries. The duo punished the opposition scoring as many as 74 runs in 6.3 overs for the third wicket partnership.
While Rahane mostly played orthodox cricketing shots hitting eight boundaries and a six in the process, Samson indulged in some adventurous strokeplay hitting two fours and three sixes. Kevon Cooper's 16-ball-32 and James Faulkner's 23 off seven deliveries were also vital in the context of Rajasthan's big total.
Rahane's 50 came off 45 balls and his only six came when a desperate Shahbaz Nadeem tried to employ a negative leg-stump line only to give him a juicy full-toss. When he was finally bowled trying to hit Nadeem inside out, he had set the pace of the Royals innings.
For Delhi, Imran Tahir (2/25) stood tall amidst some of the others while Rahul Shukla leaked as many as 44 in four overs.
In-form Karun Nair (19) started positively as he lofted Siddharth Kaul over extra cover for a six and boundary but was out in the last over of powerplay when he was done in by a Nadeem delivery that dipped in and straightened. He was adjudged leg-before.
While Rahane punished the loose deliveries, Cooper played a short but exciting innings that lasted only 16 balls but yielded 32 runs, including three huge sixes and a couple of boundaries before he was holed at the deep extra cover boundary trying to hit Duminy for a second six.
The 100 came in the 12th over of the innings bowled by Manoj Tiwary. Samson started his innings with a straight six hit into the sightscreen of occasional leg-breaks bowled by Tiwary.
Kaul was one bowler who didn't learn anything from his mistakes as he repeatedly bowled the length deliveries which was dispatched over the ropes. There was very little variation in his deliveries as he was easily sorted by the batsmen.
The other inexperienced bowler was Rahul Shukla who also didn't improve from his erratic bowling against the RCB where Yuvraj Singh pounced on him. He did not show any inclination in using the change-ups and the batsmen used his pace to get boundaries off him repeatedly.
(With PTI inputs)