IPL 2021: Morris, Unadkat sizzle as Royals make Capital gain

South African batsman David Miller produced a combative knock of 62 runs in the Royals' chase while Chris Morris scored 36 to take the side over the line.
Chris Morris of Rajasthan Royals plays a shot during the IPL against Delhi Capitals(IPL / Twitter)
Chris Morris of Rajasthan Royals plays a shot during the IPL against Delhi Capitals(IPL / Twitter)
Updated on Apr 15, 2021 11:44 PM IST
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The night belonged to Chris Morris, and his redemption. But before we get there, let’s begin this story with his Rajasthan Royals teammate and fellow South African, David Miller. In the previous edition of the IPL, Miller would experience playing for a club outside of Kings XI Punjab for the first time, when the Protea walked out to bat for Rajasthan in their opening game in Sharjah. It was not the experience he ever hoped for however. He was run out without facing a ball and never playing again in that season.

That should have been that for the 31-year-old’s IPL career. But surprisingly, Royals repurchased him at the 2021 auction. And one match into Rajasthan’s campaign, after Ben Stokes broke a finger, Miller was not only in the playing eleven; the match would soon rest on his largely unused willow.

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Batting after a gap-year in the IPL can be a daunting task by itself. But even more so once Rajasthan, firmly in the driver’s seat after keeping Delhi Capitals to just 147 in the high-scoring Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, blew it in the space of six balls between the third and fourth overs of the chase. Delhi’s Chris Woakes got rid of the Royals openers Manan Vohra and the promoted Jos Buttler first, before Kagiso Rabada nicked out captain Sanju Samson, fresh from his century, in the space of three balls. For just 4 runs.

That is when Miller walked in. And with no real assistance from the other end, he dragged Rajasthan to 52/5 at the halfway mark. Of that 52, Miller had scored 30, thanks to the odd boundary here and there for a while, before he found two fours from the 10th over bowled by Avesh Khan. When Marcus Stoinis too went for three successive fours in the 13th, the equation of 75 runs from 42 balls didn’t look all that bad. Especially after Rahul Tewatia, a chase specialist, hit Tom Curran for two more boundaries in the 14th over to get his shoulders moving. But Tewatia was out in the following over.

In the 16th over, Miller got to only his second IPL fifty since 2015. Great things unfolded soon. A six off Avesh by Miller was the first six of the entire match. Next ball, Miller pulled Avesh for an even bigger six. But when he attempted a third consecutive six, this time down the ground, Miller’s innings ended on 62 and long story short, so should have Rajasthan’s before Chris Morris decided to have his say with the bat.

Morris is the most expensive signing in the history of the IPL (bought by Royals for 16.25 crore). Yet, when push came to shove in the final over of Rajasthan’s opening match against Punjab Kings, centurion Samson did not give Morris the strike. Morris looked upset and Rajasthan lost off the final ball. So, on Thursday, Morris ensured it didn’t even get that far, taking the bull by the horns first in the penultimate over (27 required at this point), pulling countryman Rabada for two towering sixes. Then, with 12 runs to get from the final over, Tom Curran got the same treatment, the second Morris six tearing a wicked smile on his face.

Anyway, Rajasthan and Samson simply shouldn’t have let the match slip after controlling the entirety of the first innings. Every about this period seemed redemptive for captain Samson too, and also for the bowler he brought in - Jaydev Unadkat. The wily Unadkat had an IPL to forget in 2020, with only four wickets in all. Tonight alone he would take three wickets for 15 runs. That spell would give his side plenty of hope of registering a win, at least until they began their chase.

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The first of those wickets was that of a most dangerous Prithvi Shaw.He and fellow opener Shikhar Dhawan had added 138 runs for the first DC wicket against CSK in the same venue. But on Thursday night, a leading edge off Unadkat to the point fielder dismissed Shaw for two runs. Then, first ball of his second over, the left-armer got rid of Dhawan too – for just nine runs, a mistimed scoop going only as far as a flying Samson.

New batsman and DC captain Rishabh Pant first denied Unadkat of a hattrick. After Pant would go on to give his side a total to fight for (147) with his first fifty of this IPL, he did even better as captain by never allowing the game to slip despite defending a low score. Young Pant ensured, especially with his cunning bowling changes, that his side made a fist of a very mediocre total.

Brief scores:

Delhi Capitals 147/8 in 20 overs (R Pant 51, T Curran 21; J Unadkat 3/15, M Rahman 2/29) lost to Rajasthan Royals 150/7 in 19.4 overs (D Miller 62, C Morris 36*; A Khan 3/32, C Woakes 2/22, K Rabada 2/30) by three wickets.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.
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Friday, December 03, 2021