DELHI: Rajasthan Royals produced one of their better batting performances this season to keep pace with the two table leaders and no, the starring roles didn’t feature Ajinkya Rahane or Shane Watson or Stuart Binny.
There was one steadying hand from Sanju Samson to ensure the middling target was under control and a surprise promotion for Rajat Bhatia, but it was another young batsman, playing only his third game for the franchise, who reaffirmed Royals’ narrative of being a moneyball outfit. Karun Nair, the Karnataka batsman who had scores of 8 and 1 in his previous two outings, was conservative to start with, but opened up in the second half of his innings to hit an unbeaten half-century to sink Delhi Daredevils by seven wickets.
A chase of 153 had tested Royals two years ago at the same ground when they had fallen a run short, but there were no such surprises this time as Royals built a solid foundation to set up the launch. In that first half, Nair had almost remained invisible in the shadow of Samson’s strokeplay. He was on 29 off the first 30 balls he faced despite hitting three crisp boundaries.
Maybe it was the dismissal of Samson or maybe it was the need to be assertive in the company of Bhatia, who was sent to provide some thrust to the innings, Nair’s second half was in complete contrast to the first. His next 20 deliveries produced 44 runs that included five fours and two sixes, the second of which could have done Watson proud for its disdain.