Parag, bowlers steer RR to second straight win

DC started the match well but RR found their rhythm and eventually come out trumps

At 22, Riyan Parag has already been through a rollercoaster of ups and downs in the IPL. Thursday was an occasion for Parag to bask in the praise as his unbeaten 84 off 45 balls helped Rajasthan Royals claim a 12-run win over Delhi Capitals at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. Parag’s knock guided RR to 185/5 and paved the way for their second straight win of the season.

Delhi were off to a solid start in the chase with 29 runs in three overs before Nandre Burger removed Mitchell Marsh and Ricky Bhui in the space of three deliveries. Marsh was done in by inward movement while Bhui, hurried by the extra pace, failed to bring his hands down when ducking under a bouncer by the South African.

Advertisement

It didn’t deter David Warner from continuing to keep his foot on the throttle. The final two overs of the powerplay fetched 25 runs as the Australian opener attacked Trent Boult and Burger, employing a mix of cheekiness and power for his sixes.

At 89/2 in 10 overs, Delhi had the foundation to get to the target. With Rishabh Pant understandably needing time to get back to his best after a 14-month lay-off, Warner had to lead the charge for a lot longer though. That the Australian couldn’t do, getting caught at short third off a wide delivery by Avesh Khan in the 12th over.

Pant, who was only going at a little better than a run-a-ball, joined Warner in the dugout shortly after. His downfall was caused by Yuzvendra Chahal, who stuck to the line outside off-stump and induced a faint edge through to Sanju Samson. That line worked against impact sub Abishek Porel too.

Riyan Parag | Delhi capitals | IPL 2024
Riyan Parag celebrates his fifty during the match against Delhi Capitals | RR

 

It left Delhi needing 60 off the final four overs. Just when one thought RR had sealed the deal, Tristan Stubbs seemed to engineer another twist by hitting R Ashwin for consecutive sixes off the last two balls of the 17th over. Boult didn’t help RR’s cause by misjudging a skier in Ashwin’s over to give Stubbs a reprieve.

Even when 32 were required in the last two overs, Stubbs kept the visitors in the hunt by hitting Sandeep for a six over wide long-on and a four through cover. The medium-pacer, however, kept his nerve and gave away only five runs off his next four balls, allowing Avesh to close it out.

RR’s bowlers wouldn’t have had the cushion if Parag hadn’t steered them out of difficulty. After RR were reduced to 36/3 in 7.2 overs, the first signs of their recovery actually came from an unlikely source in Ashwin, who justified the move to No.5 with a 19-ball 29. Having been occasionally used as a pinch hitter last season, Ashwin’s brief was to clearly go for his shots.

Sanju Samson | RR | IPL 2024
Sanju deserves a lot of credit (for bringing him in) | RR

With Ashwin finding the big hits, Parag was content playing second fiddle. He was on 16 off 20 balls when he smashed his first six, taking full toll of a delivery by Kuldeep that was just a fraction short. By the time Ashwin holed out at deep midwicket off Axar Patel, he had done his bit. And Ashwin’s dismissal prompted Parag to take the lead.

He went after Khaleel Ahmed in the 15th over, somewhat spoiling what were otherwise excellent figures for the left-arm pacer. A six over long leg — he used his supple wrists to whip a shortish ball in that region — was the pick of the lot. When Khaleel tried bowling a few inches outside off stump, Parag was able to effectively pierce gaps on the off-side too.

It was slightly odd that RR held back the big-hitting Shimron Hetmyer till the 18th over, but they were still able to add 77 runs in the final five overs. Parag brought up his half-century, off 34 balls, in style with a six over mid-off against Mukesh Kumar. The grand finish that RR were hoping for came as Parag slammed 25 runs in the final over by Nortje, which included an inside-out drive over extra cover for six.