South African all-rounder Chris Morris hit an unbeaten 36 runs off 18 balls to take the Rajasthan Royals to an unlikely three-wicket victory over Delhi Capitals in the Indian Premier League on Thursday night.
Any doubts about why the Royals paid big money to sign Morris during the IPL auction were all but extinguished by his powerful cameo, which took the team to a first win in this new season.
Chasing 148 for victory, Rajasthan, who lost key player Ben Stokes due to a broken finger in their opening defeat on Monday, were in trouble at 104-7 when David Miller got out after his blazing 62 in Mumbai.
But Morris took charge and put on an unbeaten 46-run stand with Jaydev Unadkat, who hit 11, to smash four big sixes including two in the final over off Tom Curran as Rajasthan won with two balls to spare.
"There are guys that get paid to bat and guys that get paid to slog, and I know which I am," said Morris, who became the most expensive player in IPL history when Rajasthan bought him for $2.25 million (around ₹16.25 crore) in February's auction. "For us to get as close on the day, we took a lot out of that first game of ours. Nice to know we can win from anywhere after being down in the dumps."
The South African all-rounder was at the non-striker's end on Monday when skipper Sanju Samson hit a blistering 119 but got out on the final ball as Rajasthan lost by four runs to Punjab.
The 33-year-old Morris proved his worth with a wicket off his pace bowling and batting at number eight.
Delhi's Avesh Khan claimed three wickets while Chris Woakes and Kagiso Rabada took two each. The pace trio had sent Rajasthan slipping to 42-5 before Miller's 43-ball blitz.
One thing is evident: the Delhi Capitals have an impressive bowling line-up, including Marcus Stoinis, Ravichandran Ashwin and Tom Curran, which could be instrumental for them this season.
"We had Miller and Morris, but I thought it was tough," admitted Samson. "I was praying inside, Morris can you please get one six."
Earlier Unadkat claimed three wickets and Bangladesh's Mustafizur Rahman took two to restrict Delhi to 147-8 despite a 32-ball 51 from skipper Rishabh Pant.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings face Punjab Kings in Mumbai on Friday. In their next match, the Royals will square up against the Super Kings on Monday, 19 April.