New Delhi: Young Deepak Hooda struck a belligerent half-century to lead Rajasthan Royals to a thrilling three-wicket win over Delhi Daredevils as the hosts suffered their 11th straight defeat in the IPL, here on Sunday.
Chasing 185 for a win, Royals rode Hooda's 25-ball 54 to achieve the target on the last ball of the innings.
Put into bat, Delhi rode on a 45-run opening start by Mayank Agarwal (37) and Shreyas Iyer (40) to post a challenging 184 for three in 20 overs.
But even on a day that belonged to the 19-year-old Hooda, Delhi spinner and Imran Tahir made his presence felt with a four-wicket haul.
Delhi leg-spinners Tahir (4-28) and Amith Mishra (2-32) shared six wickets between them to put all the roadblocks they could but No.8 and No.9 batsmen Chris Morris (13 not out) and Tim Southee (7 not out) held their nerves to manage 12 required runs from the last over.
Hooda's and James Faulkner's (17) wickets in the 19th over by Tahir spelt trouble for the visitors but Mathews could not change Delhi's fortunes in the last over.
Mathews though did draw first blood at the start, sending Sanju Samson (10) back to put a brake on the Royals' run flow as Ajinkya Rahane (47) kept his cool from one end.
Mishra was introduced into the attack and the leg-spinner struck right away to get stand-in skipper Steven Smith (11) back in the dug out with a googly.
New man Karun Nair (20) tried to take the attack to the opposition with a few boundaries but Mishra was relentless as he again struck in his second over.
The googly did it again as Nair, who had already hit two fours, tried to charge off a widish delivery only to get stumped.
The spin force continued as South African leggie Tahir trapped Stuart Binny in the 11th over of the innings.
Hooda, who hit 3 fours and 4 sixes, then joined Rahane to take the attack to the opposition after hitting Mathews for a six and two fours to help DD get 19 runs from the 13th over.
But in the very next over, Yuvraj Singh fluffed a run-out chance by spilling a good return throw by Mathews at the non-strikers end as Hooda ran to save his life.
Jaydev Unadkat created another opportunity in the 15th over, only to see Manoj Tiwary floor a catch at deep mid-wicket. Hooda again got lucky.
But on a day that belonged to DD leg-spinners, Tahir cleaned up danger-man Rahane to literally celebrate an early win but it was not meant to be.
Earlier, Delhi's opening duo departure slowed things down for the home team. Agarwal, after hitting six fours and a six in his 21-ball stay, fell to the guise of leg-spinner Pravin Tambe in a soft caught and bowled dismissal.
Iyer, who smacked three fours and as many sixes in his 30-ball knock, carried on the good work only to see a slower ball from South African medium-pacer Chris Morris take him back to the dug out.
Skipper Jean-Paul Duminy (44 not out) and Yuvraj Singh (27) then stitched a 45-run third wicket stand to give some muscle to the scoreline.
The duo mixed the right dose of caution and aggression to counter a disciplined RR bowling attack.
Yuvraj, who hit 2 sixes in his 17-ball cameo, though was finally done in by another Morris delivery, as the star left-hander mistimed a pull to be caught by Karun Nair at deep backward square-leg.
Duminy was then joined in by Angelo Mathews (27 not out) and the Sri Lankan captain showed his worth right away by hitting two fours and a six off James Faulkner (0-55) in the very next over.
Mathews, who hit three fours and a six in his 14-ball innings, stayed on with Duminy to not only stitch an unbeaten 46-run partnership but also provide the necessary push required in the last five overs.
In the last over by Morris, Duminy hit two big sixes to squeeze 17 runs from the final six deliveries.
Morris, who had not given too many runs in the first three over, ended with figures of 2-35.
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