The roof-top hitter

Shane Watson... ability to hit long and far.-SANDEEP SAXENA

Once Rajasthan’s Shane Watson decided to have a ball, Delhi had no chance. G. Viswanath reports.

No one is griping in Jaipur that Shane Watson is not an elegant strokeplayer and not attractive to watch. The locals are happy that he has the power to send the ball to the roof tops around the Sawai Man Singh Stadium and is winning matches for the Rajasthan Royals. Watson batted with fixity of purpose against Delhi Daredevils and took his team to a comfortable win.

He was dropped twice in the course of a blistering 74 with five 6s and an equal number of 4s and Delhi rued the lapses. Watson left the scene when his team was seven runs adrift of the target of 157. He had forced an error from Sehwag while batting and the Delhi captain lost a chance to make amends by dropping Watson off Yomahesh.

Restricted to 156, Delhi staged a strong comeback through smart fielding efforts by A. B. de Villiers and Sehwag. The South African’s splendid diving hit at the stumps removed the dangerous Yusuf Pathan and immediately Mohammad Kaif fell a run out victim following a complete misunderstanding with Graeme Smith. Pressure mounted on either side, but eventually the home team managed to get the better of the visitor.

Gujarat left-hander Niraj Patel, who got a first opportunity in the league, stroked a carpet drive through extra cover and Shane Warne went into raptures about the shot and said: “Watson was the turning point, but that shot by the young fellow made my night. To hit a four like that showed his temperament,” said Warne, clearly upbeat at his team snatching two points from a squad that had trounced it in their opening league match at the Kotla.

The Royals won the toss and without hesitation invited its opponent to bat. The Delhi Daredevils innings floundered once Sehwag departed and until the two Sri Lankans, Farveez Maharoof and Tillakaratne Dilshan, hit out and managed a respectable total.

Maharoof targeted Warne and hit him for four sixes. Playing his first match, England’s Dimitri Mascarenhas captured the vital wickets of de Villiers and Dinesh Karthik. The Hampshire all-rounder returned home after this match, but Warne said he would be available should the Royals reach the semi-finals.

As usual Glenn McGrath did his bit to keep the Royals openers — Yusuf Pathan and Smith — quiet before de Villiers and Sehwag provided a flicker of hope by sending back Pathan and Kaif. But, as it transpired, Watson got into action. Smith played the anchor role while Watson hit out. Leg spinner Amit Mishra impressed, but Watson proved to be unstoppable.

Watson’s dismissal turned out to be controversial with Emerging Media, the franchise owner of the Royals, claiming that Sehwag had violated the spirit of the game by persuading umpire Steve Davis to refer the run out appeal to the third umpire. “It’s happened to us for the second time and we are going to take up the matter with the IPL,” said Fraser Castellino, CEO, Emerging Media.

THE SCORES

Delhi Daredevils v Rajasthan Royals, Sawai Man Singh Stadium, May 11.

Result: Rajasthan Royals won by seven wickets.

Delhi Daredevils 156 for seven in 20 overs (G. Gambhir 31. A. de Villiers 20, F. Maharoof 39, D. Mascarenhas 2-29, Watson 2-21, S. Trivedi 2-28) lost to Rajasthan Royals 159 for seven in 19.1 overs (G. Smith 24, S. Watson 74, A. Mishra 2-27).