Warner’s 77 in vain as Royals steal a thriller

New Delhi, April 6 (IANS) David Warner’s fiery 77 went in vain as Delhi Daredevils faltered in a close finish and suffered their second consecutive loss in the Indian Premier League (IPL), going down by five runs to Rajasthan Royals at the Ferozeshah Kotla here Saturday.

Warner had almost put the Daredevils on the threshold of a win while chasing 166. But the opening batsman fell in the penultimate over, run out while attempting a tight single, that left Delhi needing nine runs off the last over.

West Indian pacer Kevon Cooper, who picked up 3-30, bowled a fine last over, conceding just three runs and picked up two wickets to leave Daredevils stranded at 160/6 from 20 overs.

The real star was veteran Rahul Dravid, who played a fine captain’s knock of a 51-ball 65, studded with four fours and two sixes that propelled Royals to a competitive 165/7. Dravid was adjudged the man of the match.

It was a fine start to inaugural IPL champions Rajasthan Royals’ campaign in the sixth edition. The victory was sweeter for the Royals since they had lost both their matches against Daredevils last season.

While chasing, Daredevils were always on course. Warner and Unmukt Chand (23) gave a stable start with their 39-run stand and then Warner and skipper Mahela Jayawardene (19) added 43 runs for the second wicket.

It was a measured knock from Warner but full of aggression. On the eve of the match, Warner had stressed on the importance of one of the top-four getting a big knock. He backed his words with performance.

Warner struck nine fours and a six and single-handedly took Daredevils to sniffing distance of a win. Warner added 67 valuable runs for the third-wicket with Manprit Juneja (20) that almost got the match in Delhi’s grasp. The hosts needed just 22 runs off 18 balls but failed in the end.

It was a disciplined performance by the visitors and temperamental fast bowler S. Sreesanth was impressive with his 1/18 from four overs.

Opting to bat first, Rajasthan Royals made a competitive score courtesy a fine knock by Dravid and a swashbuckling 20-ball 40 by Stuart Binny. Kusal Perera (14) and Ajinkya Rahane (28) gave Rajasthan Royals a quick start but pacer Umesh Yadev (4/24) struck in the third over to get rid of the Sri Lankan wicketkeeper.

Rahane and Dravid then joined forces for their 65-run stand that took Rajasthan to a position of strength. At a time when Rahane was starting to flourish, the youngster gave an easy catch to Shahbaz Nadeem off his own bowling and suffered a soft dismissal.

Dravid took his own time and once he settled down, he took on the Daredevils bowlers.

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