Rajasthan Royals enter IPL final

Press Trust Of India
May 31, 2008 at 12:24am IST

Mumbai: Riding on a brilliant all-round display by Shane Watson, the ruthless Rajasthan Royals drubbed Delhi Daredevils by 105 runs in a lop-sided semi-final to storm into the final of the Indian Premier League at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday night.

Watson powered his way to a 29-ball 52 with three sixes and four fours in his team's challenging total of 192-9 after league table toppers Rajasthan Royals were asked to take first strike by Daredevils captain Virender Sehwag.

Later, Watson ripped out the top-order of Delhi with a triple strike to account for the top three Delhi batsmen Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Shikhar Dhawan cheaply to reduce them to 24-3.

SETTING THE PACE: Shane Warne-led Rajasthan Royals faced no resistance in their semi-final match.

Delhi never recovered from this early body blows and lost wickets at regular intervals while the asking rate kept climbing before they were shot out for a paltry 87 in 16.1 overs.

Rajasthan Royals now await the winners of the second semi-final, to be played at the same venue on Saturday between King's XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings, in the final to be played at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai on June 1.

If Watson stole the major honours of the day, teammate Yusuf Pathan also played a key role and celebrated inclusion into the Indian One-Day squad with a whirlwind 45 in 21 balls with four sixes and three fours.

The hard-hitting Pathan, named in the Indian 15 for next month's tri-series in Bangladesh and the Asia Cup in Pakistan earlier in the day, creamed the hapless Delhi attack, which included Glenn McGrath, to hit four sixes and three fours in his 21-ball knock.

Both Watson and Pathan took ample advantage of the good half-century start provided by pint-sized opener Swapnil Asnodkar (39 in 21 balls) and Graeme Smith, who made 25 in the same number of balls despite being hampered by a pulled leg muscle which required a runner.

The efforts of Watson and Pathan helped Rajasthan Royals add 109 runs in the last 10 overs after the sound beginning provided by Smith and Asnodkar who put on 65 runs in 40 balls.

Delhi began the run-chase on a poor note when Sehwag (three) pulled a ball wide of the stumps from Watson and skied to deep mid-wicket in the second over.

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Gambhir (11) and left-handed Dhawan (five), both in good form in the tournament, perished in close succession after enabling Delhi to make a partial recovery.

Gambhir slashed Watson off back foot and was caught at cover point while Dhawan pulled the Aussie straight to short mid-wicket to leave Delhi gasping at 24-3.

Watson's first three-over spell read a superb three for 10 and if Delhi had hopes of staging a fight-back they were thwarted by the dismissal of Manoj Tiwary (0), four runs later, off Munaf Patel.

It was a regular procession of batsmen thereafter and Rajasthan emerged victorious in comprehensive fashion.

Tillakratne Dilshan top-scored with 33 in 22 balls - with a six and five fours - before being seventh out at 76 in the 13th over.

Apart from Watson, Munaf (3 for 17), who was omitted from the ODI squads for Bangladesh and Pakistan, and skipper Warne (2 for 21) were the other leading wicket takers for Rajasthan Royals.

Watson was the obvious choice for the Man of the Match award.

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