Mumbai:Delhi Daredevils were blown away like leaves in a tropical storm as Rajasthan Royals stormed into the final of the IPL at the Wankhede Stadium.
The Royals had an inauspicious start to the game --- in the form of a hamstring injury to Graeme Smith --- but recovered in style with chunky contributions from the regular suspects --- Swapnil Asnodkar, Yusuf Pathan, Munaf Patel and Shane Warne himself. But the real star was Shane Watson whose 52 (29 balls) and 3-10 stood out.
Rajasthan made 192-9 after being put in, and 87 was all that Delhi could make. But Delhi's innings was done the moment Watson reduced them to 3-24 in the sixth over. Virender Sehwag's men caved in against the mounting run rate. With the ball, they had been wayward and had dropped as many as three catches.
Smith-Asnodkar at it again
The Royals' juggernaut has rolled on unstoppable, but it seemed for a moment that it would come to a halt tonight. Smith pulled his hamstring attempting a quick single in the second over. He was initially denied a runner, and for a couple of overs, the runs dried out.
However, Smith recovered from the blow, batted with a runner, and added 65 runs in quick time with his partner Swapnil Asnodkar to set the stage for Shane Watson and Yusuf Pathan, both of whom hurt Delhi bad in the last ten overs.
Rajasthan got off to a slow start --- 15 in three overs --- but it was important they saw off the opening spell by Glenn McGrath and Mohammad Asif. The wicket was hard and flat, and the aggressive openers cashed in.
Asnodkar led the way, hitting Asif over the covers to get going. Smith, on one leg, punched three fours on the trot in a McGrath over. But before the partnership bled Delhi to death, Ferveez Maharoof removed both in the seventh over.
Maharoof had dropped Asnodkar in the previous over at long leg, and he made amends. Smith fell to a catch at deep square leg and Asnodkar couldn't keep a cut shot down and hit it to point.
Watson, Yusuf carry on
Rajasthan's powerful allrounders have been in good form, and they made it count in a big game. Watson's 52 came in just 29 balls while Yusuf's 45 in 21. The two controlled the middle stages of the innings when Maharoof had taken three wickets in good time.
Watson was harsh on Yo Mahesh --- who has been quite miserly in the tournament --- and his third over went for 21 runs. Watson hit one six bang on the roof of the Sunil Gavaskar stand at midwicket in the over.
Yusuf was equally merciless on the bowlers. The highlight of the innings was the slower one he picked up from McGrath in the 19th over. The bat swung in a smooth motion, hitting the ball effortlessly into the crowd behind deep mid wicket.
Patchy performance from Delhi
Delhi had relied heavily on their seamers in the tournament but on Friday night, all didn't go to plan. No bowler was spared by Rajasthan and only Maharoof (3-34) had wickets to show. Besides there were three missed catches.
But the biggest disappointment for them was the collective failure of Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Shikhar Dhawan. Delhi's three best batsmen in the IPL were consumed in one spell by Watson.
Sehwag top-edged a catch to fine leg, Gambhir fell to a stunning air-borne catch by Turuwar Kohli at cover, and Dhawan hit a short ball straight to square leg who didn't move an inch for the catch.
Manoj Tiwary miscued a pull off Munaf Patel, and Dinesh Karthik hit a full toss to Mohammad Kaif at midwicket, who tumbled to take a low catch on the boundary.
Maharoof slog-swept Warne to deep midwicket, while Tilakaratne Dilshan's slog sweep went to fine leg. The score read 76-7 but the game had been decided long before that.
Rajasthan will now face the winner of the Chennai Super Kings vs Kings XI Punjab to be played on Saturday.