Blending panache with power, Ajinkya Rahane roared back to form with a scintillating century and propelled Rajasthan Royals to 191 for six against Delhi Capitals in the Indian Premier League on Monday.
Rahane remained not out on 105 off 63 balls, decorating his knock with three sixes and 11 fours, while Steve Smith contributed 50 off 32 deliveries.Asked to bat after Shreyas Iyer called correctly at the toss, Rahane spearheaded Rajasthan Royals' innings after getting a life on 16, the culprit being Ishant Sharma, who dropped a sitter at sort fine-leg. The drop hurt the visitors, but Delhi did well to prevent RR from going past 200.Entering the game with over 650 runs against Delhi in the league, Rahane chose his favourite opponents to find form, and when he walked back to the dressing room, he had over 750 to his name.To start with, Rahane drove Ishant through a crowded off-side field for a boundary, a shot that had his characteristic elegance written all over it.Stripped of captaincy last week following a string of poor results, the 30-year-old went into attack mode and smashed Axar Patel for a six and a four at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium, which had a dash of pink.Seeing the flight early, Rahane danced down the crowd to hoist's Axar ball over him and into the sightscreen.
Unfazed by the sight of pacer Kagiso Rabada steaming in, he smoked the South African's short of a length delivery down the ground for another maximum.He reached his fifty by dispatching Chris Morris over the mid-wicket for a four and celebrated it with fist pumps. A flurry of boundaries followed as Rahane galloped along to bring up his second IPL hundred, the first coming seven years ago.
He raised his bat to acknowledge the applause from the crowd and his dugout that was as relieved as the batsman himself.Meanwhile, Smith, who replaced Rahane as captain hours before the start of their last match against Mumbai Indians, struck medium pacer Sherfane Rutherford for three consecutive boundaries to score his second successive half century of the season.And even as Smith and Ben Stokes gout out in quick succession, Rahane was going strong, swiftly hitting Morris for a boundary over mid-off. At the other end, Ashton Turner fell for a third golden duck.