New Delhi: Delhi Capitals (DC) ended their group stage campaign in the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) with a five-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals (RR) at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Saturday.
The win ensured that they finish with 18 points from 14 games with 9 wins. Unless Mumbai Indians win their last game against Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday, Delhi will finish in the top-two on the points table.
It was only poetic justice that Rishabh Pant (53*; 38b, 4x2, 6x5) finished the game with a six for DC after being pulled up for throwing away his wicket towards the end of a few games this season.
With figures of 3/26, Ish Sodhi was the pick of the bowlers for RR.
Chasing 116 for victory, it wasn't a walk in the park for the DC batsmen as the Rajasthan bowlers stuck to the task of picking up wickets at regular intervals. It started with Sodhi dismissing Shikhar Dhawan (16) and Prithvi Shaw (8) off successive deliveries in the fourth over.
Skipper Shreyas Iyer and Pant then tried to strike a partnership, but just when it looked like they would take DC home, Shreyas Gopal sent back Iyer (15) to break the 33-run stand with the scoreboard reading 61/3 in the 8th over.
Coling Ingram too failed to provide the required support to Pant as Sodhi had him caught by Ajinkya Rahane for a 23-ball 12. It was quite a struggle for the South Africa batsman as RR spinners spun a web around him on a low and slow Kotla wicket.
But Pant kept his calm and ensured that he held one end up as Delhi reached the target with 23 balls to spare.
Earlier, it was Delhi Capitals all the way at the Feroz Shah Kotla after Rajasthan Royals won the toss and decided to bat first.
Needing a victory to keep their chances of cementing a top-two finish alive, the Delhi bowlers did their job to the core as they restricted RR to 115/9 in their 20 overs.
Riyan Parag's (50; 48 balls, 4x4, 6x2) knock was the only silver lining in the Rajasthan innings as the youngster helped the visitors amass 45 runs in the last five overs.
For Delhi, while Amit Mishra finished with figures of 3/17, Ishant Sharma played the senior pacer's role to perfection in Kagiso Rabada's absence, finishing with figures of 3/38.
Rajasthan's joy ended soon after the toss as reinstated skipper Ajinkya Rahane failed to rise to the captain's role as he mistimed a flick to be caught by Shikhar Dhawan off Ishant Sharma for 2. The score read 11/1 in the second over.
But Ishant wasn't done yet as he returned in the next over to dismiss Liam Livingstone (14) as the opener failed to read a slower ball which disturbed the timber. The score read 20/2 in the fourth over. But this was just the beginning of Rajasthan's horror as Sanju Samson was next run out by Prithvi Shaw for 5 as the score read 26/3.
Ishant then came back to dismiss Mahipal Lomror for 8. After that it was the Amit Mishra show as he sent back Shreyas Gopal (12) and Stuart Binny (0) off successive balls.
A hat-trick was on the cards, but Trent Boult dropped a sitter off K. Gowtham's bat. However, Mishra had his man caught by Ishant for 6 in his next over. With the scoreboard reading 65/7 in the 12th over, it was all about playing the full quota of overs after that.
Rajasthan Royals: 115/9 in 20 overs (Riyan Parag 50; Amit Mishra 3/17, Ishant Sharma 3/38) lost to Delhi Capitals: 121/5 in 16.1 overs (Rishabh Pant 53*; Ish Sodhi 3/26) by 5 wickets.
(Story By: BAIDURJO BHOSE)