Ajinkya Rahane, Rahane, Indian Premier League, IPL 2019, RR vs DC, Rajasthan Royals vs Delhi Capitals
Ajinkya Rahane, who reached his fifty in 32 balls – his second of the season – waded into the Delhi Capitals bowling attack. @ BCCI

Spectators at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur witnessed a show of elegant batting from two players who were considered to be, “not suited together” for a T20 team.” Liberated after being sacked from captaincy, Ajinkya Rahane dished out a classy 58-ball century and remained unbeaten on 105, while new captain Steve Smith (50) provided the right support as the duo powered Rajasthan Royals to a challenging 191/6 in their Indian Premier League (IPL 2019) match against Delhi Capitals on Monday.

Rahane now joins team-mate Samson, Kings XI Punjab opener KL Rahul and Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli as the only three Indians to have hit an IPL ton this season.

Invited to bat after DC captain Shreyas Iyer made the right move to bowl on a surface Graeme Smith reckoned was suited to chase under lights, the Royals lost the dangerous Sanju Samson in what was an absolute waste of a wicket in the second over after he was run out thanks to a major mix-up between him and Rahane. Kagiso Rabada — the bowler — in his followthrough made no mistake to target all three stumps as Samson, who was on a rampage in RR’s previous match against Mumbai Indians, departed without facing even a delivery.

That premature departure perhaps brought the demon inside Rahane, who turned the clock back with some crisp strokeplay. He took the bowling attack to the cleaners smashing 11 boundaries and smoking three towering sixes in his unbeaten stay at the crease. Luck too played its part in Rahane’s immaculate knock – an innings of courage and conviction – after Ishant Sharma spilled a dolly at short fine-leg when he was batting on 16.

Rahane led the charge in the 130-run partnership for the second wicket with Smith, who brought up his second successive half-century in 31 balls – his eighth in the IPL but departed immediately after reaching the milestone. The former Australia captain, who clobbered eight boundaries in his 32-ball stay at the crease, fell to Axar Patel in the 14th over after he lofted it straight to Chris Morris at mid-off.

Meanwhile, Rahane, who reached his fifty in 32 balls – his second of the season – waded into the Delhi Capitals bowling attack even as the right kind of support failed to back him from the other end as wickets kept falling. Ashton Turner registered his third consecutive first ball ducks and went into the history books with a record that nobody would want to be proud of. Ben Stokes too failed and chipped in just 8 before he was given marching orders by Morris.

For Delhi Capitals, Rabada was the pick of the bowlers with two for 37 in his four overs, while Ishant, Axar and Morris all picked one wicket apiece.

Delhi Capitals had made one change with Nepalese spinner Sandeep Lamicchane making way for Morris, while Rajasthan Royals remained unchanged.

Brief scores: Rajasthan Royals 191/6 (Ajinkya Rahane 105, Steve Smith 50; Kagiso Rabada 2/37) versus Delhi Capitals