This IPL 2015 has already had a few crackers already hasn't it, and this was no different as the Delhi Daredevils why-on-earth-isn't-it-ending losing streak continued, scaling a joint record 11, with the Rajasthan Royals the latest team to pile on the misery.
A high-scoring encounter it looked like being with a nice easy pitch and short boundaries at the Feroz Shah Kotla and a high-scoring corker of a match it proved to be with the Daredevils posting 184/3 in their 20 overs and the Royals, thanks largely to a blitz of a blitzkrieg from Deepak Hooda, and some outstanding nerveless batting from their lower order, getting to that target in the final ball.
Try as they might, even when they play really well, the Delhi Daredevils just do not seem to be able to fashion a win, and this loss, after a one-run defeat to CSK to start IPL 2015, will hurt even more. For large periods of the game they looked like being certainties to end a 10match losing streak, with pretty much every single one of their top five batsmen contributing with the bat to help them to that defendable score.
Mayank Agarwal (37, 21b, 6x4, 1x6) gave DD a blazing start, with Shreyas Iyer, opening the innings this time, continuing that assault with a good little 40 (30b, 3x4, 3x6) of his own. JP Duminy (44, 38b, 3x6) came in at No.3 this time – there was certainly not going to be a repeat of that shambolic batting order remiss this time – and anchored the innings before taking off in the final over, while Yuvraj Singh (27, 17b, 2x6), with a few gorgeous straight blows, and Angelo Mathews (27, 14b, 3x4, 1x6), as is his wont, wielded that willow to great effect as well.
So, defending 184, the Delhi daredevils would have known they were in with a real chance of picking up their first win in 11 IPL matches, and that feeling only increased when Sanju Samson and Steven near-impossible-to-get-out Smith fell relatively cheaply.
Ajinkya Rahane had taken over the boundary-hitting duties at the top, getting the Royals off to a solid start, which kept them relatively on course, despite Samson (11, 12b, 1x4) and Smith (10, 9b, 2x4) falling quickly.
The two leg-spinners – Amit Mishra (4-0-32-2) and Imran Tahir (4-0-28-4) – were again instrumental for the Daredevils, putting the skids on and making life difficult for the Royals batsmen, with Mishra sending Karun Nair (20, 12b, 3x4) on his way and Tahir making Stuart Binny look like a deer caught in headlights to leg-spin bowling.
At Binny's wicket, the Royals were on 78/4, needing another 107 runs in 56 balls – so Delhi Daredevils' match to lose then. Hooda didn't think so, as the 19-year-old showed just why he could be the next big star of Indian cricket with a brutal innings of the highest order.
Using those AB De Villiers/Glenn Maxwell-like movements around the crease Hooda thumped the Delhi bowlers at will, while taking full advantage of a couple of lives as well – how Yuvraj will be ruing that simple missed gather at the stumps which would have run the batsman out on just 23 – to give life to the Royals chase again.
His 54 (25b, 3x4, 4x6) brought the Royals right back into the game, and you know when a limited-overs match goes right to the death, the advantage is always in the batting team's hands.
Hooda and James Faulkner (17, 11b, 2x4) took the game into the final couple of overs, with the Royals needing a makeable 19 from 12 balls, but then in stepped that ridiculously good limited-overs bowlers Tahir again, first, picking up Hooda in the first ball, and then castling Faulkner in the final delivery of the over.
Those two wickets meant, Chris Morris and Tim Southee had to hit 12 runs in the final Angelo Mathews over to take the Royals home, and they did just that with a four in the final ball, when RR needed three to win, taking them past Delhi's score and sending the entire Kotla into despair.