April 22 (Reuters) - Days after being relieved of the team’s captaincy, Rajasthan Royals’ Ajinkya Rahane hit a blistering 105 not out off 63 balls against Delhi Capitals in a losing cause in the Indian Premier League on Monday.
Rahane was replaced as Rajasthan’s captain by Australian batsman Steve Smith over the weekend after the 2008 champions won only two of their first eight games of the campaign.
Rahane, who was not named in India’s 15-man squad for the 50-over World Cup and had only one half-century this season, carried the bat, smashing 11 fours and three sixes to punish Delhi who dropped him in the fifth over when he was on 16.
With Smith’s half-century in support during a 130-run second-wicket partnership, Rajasthan set Delhi a target of 192 to win. However, Rahane’s hard work was undone as Delhi reached the target with four balls to spare, winning by six wickets.
Opener Shikhar Dhawan hit a quick-fire 54 off 27 balls to set the ball rolling before an 84-run partnership between youngsters Rishabh Pant and Prithvi Shaw steadied the chase. Pant hit the winning runs, a six, to finish with 78 off 36 balls.
“Shikhar played a magnificent knock, and Rishabh is a powerful young man, and he plays the ball in strange spots,” Smith said after the loss. “We probably didn’t finish off with the bat as well as we could have.”
Delhi, with 14 points from 11 games, leapfrogged Chennai Super Kings to top the standings on net run rate while Rajasthan remained in seventh place in the eight-team league. (Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)