When you remove Jos Buttler, the man in form early, you have made it easy for yourself and the team. Buttler, who has amassed three centuries and three fifties to sit comfortably at the top of the run-scorers list with 625 runs, fell for just seven in the third over to give Delhi Capitals the early advantage.
Winning the toss and choosing to bowl first, DC captain Rishabh Pant seemed to have made the right choice. He was not influenced by the fact that in the last match played at this venue on Monday, KKR defended 165 against Mumbai Indians to win by 52 runs. Pant went with the belief that whatever RR posted, he had the firepower to chase down.
Pant’s opening bowler Chetan Sakariya bowled an impressive first over to keep Buttler tight, even believing he had the Englishman caught behind and started celebrating. Pant was wiser to not go for DRS as he was sure there was no edge, and so it was.
However, Sakariya celebration was for real in his second over when he bowled a leg-stump line and close to Buttler’s foot, who managed to only chip it straight to mid-on Shardul Thakur. With Buttler gone for just seven, DC had drawn the first blood and a very important one at that.
Not only was Buttler’s dismissal the turning point of the match but also sending Ravichandran Ashwin at No. 3 was baffling. Ashwin certainly is no mug with the bat. He has five Test centuries and is more than an able batsman. But to send him at No. 3 to go after the opposition bowling and speed up the scoring rate was asking for a bit too much from the Rajasthan Royals think-tank.
When you have in your line-up the likes of Sanju Samson, Rassie van der Dussen, who has come in the place of Shimron Hetmyer, who has gone back home for the birth of his child, and even Riyan Parag who can bat at a much faster pace, sending Ashwin, especially on a tricky surface was a little puzzling. He may have got a fifty, but the move to send him up mainly to go after the leather did not serve the purpose for RR.
In doing so, RR also kept changing the batting order of Devdutt Padikkal, playing him at No. 4. Padikkal, who began this tournament at No. 4, batted at No. 3 before opening for quite a few matches and again back to No. 4. This constant changing of batting order has not really worked for RR, especially in the match in which a win would have sealed their berth in the Play Offs.
Ashwin and Padikkal, in their unusual batting positions, did not disappoint, though. They shared 53 runs in six overs, Ashwin bringing up his maiden IPL fifty while Padikkal missed his eighth IPL fifty by two runs. Their dismissals put pressure on the incoming batsmen and in their anxiety to clear the boundary, ended up giving catches in the deep.
Buttler’s early dismissal and the shuffling in the batting line-up, though, did not work in RR favour. Delhi Capitals made the most of it and won comfortably in the end.