Shikhar Dhawan (56, 41b, 7X4, 1X6) and Shreyas Iyer (58, 49b, 5X4, 1X6) starred in a clinical performance from Delhi Capitals – barring the odd hiccup towards the end - to secure a five-wicket win for the side over Kings XI Punjab at the Ferozeshah Kotla here. The two batsmen compiled 92 runs together, off 64 deliveries, to lay the foundation in Capitals’ chase of 164.
Dhawan, after having entertaining onlookers with shots all around the ground, departed in the 14th over. It slowed the run-rate down but Iyer, the captain, responsibly saw the side through to the finishing line in the last over.
Iyer accounted for some imperious strokes as well, including a clinically hit six straight behind the bowler’s head. But Dhawan was the highlight. The left-hander played his drives, pulls, sweeps, reverse-sweeps, and dabs, and even stepped down the track, in what was a kaleidoscopic performance. In between, he took his singles regularly to rotate the strike. His only six of the innings was off debutant Harpreet Brar’s first delivery of the competition; he stepped down the track to the left-arm spinner and lofted him over long-on.
Highlights: Delhi vs Punjab
Against the run of play, Dhawan got out with 48 left to get. He knelt down and attempted a lofted sweep off fast bowler Hardus Viljoen; he could only balloon the ball to short mid-wicket, where R. Ashwin, the captain, took a tumbling catch. Iyer held firm at the other end and Colin Ingram played a cameo, striking three fours off Viljoen in the 18th over – off a slice, drive, and pull - to bring Capitals to the doorstep of victory.
However, the side suffered hiccups in the next over, bowled by Mohammed Shami. First, Ingram was bowled – he couldn’t negotiate a yorker and the ball struck the middle-stump. Then, Axar Patel, the new batsman, turned a delivery to leg and coming back for the second run, was run out. With six left to win in the last over, bowled by left-arm seamer Sam Curran, Iyer and Sherfane Rutherford ran four runs off the first three deliveries – a brace and two singles – before Iyer played a pull to the deep midwicket boundary to finish the contest.
Kings XI Punjab’s innings constituted two contrasting halves. The marauding presence of Chris Gayle (69, 37b, 6X4, 5X6) made for the highlight of the first half. Spinners Amit Mishra and Sandeep Lamichhane were frequently collared for numerous fours and sixes – especially through the leg-side - in what was a trademark display of fireworks from the left-hander. He stuck around even as three top-order batsmen were dismissed cheaply; two of them were off seemingly irresponsible strokes. Gayle fell at around the midway point of the innings, and Kings XI fell apart dramatically thereafter, as wickets tumbled one after the other and the rhythm was lost. The big hits were few and far between, and it took a cameo from Brar to take the team past 160. It included a six – off a mighty pull from Brar – off the last ball of the innings.
Overall, 70 runs were scored in the last 10 overs. Many more could have been scored when the side had already collected 92 runs in the first 10 overs, for the loss of three wickets. Gayle was in his element, and Mandeep Singh, the No. 5, played second fiddle and provided him solid support from the other end.
However, the scenario changed in the 13th over. Lamichhane, who had already given away 27 runs in his first two overs, was attacked early in his third over, Gayle slog-sweeping hard to deposit the ball into the stands; it was a full, floated delivery. The second delivery was a long-hop, and Gayle, at first instance, seemed to have pulled hard enough for another six, but Colin Ingram, positioned at the deep mid-wicket boundary, caught the ball, leant over the boundary padding, threw the ball back to the hands of Axar Patel. The dismissal was the turning point. It was his second wicket as early on in the innings he had got rid of K. L. Rahul, the opener, via a stumping by Rishabh Pant.
After three dot balls in the over, Lamichhane got his third wicket. Sam Curran, who had come out to bat after Gayle’s dismissal, attempted to turn a delivery to leg but ball seemed to travel too slowly after pitching and Curran ended up chipping it back to the bowler.
The set Mandeep and R. Ashwin, the captain, dug in to compile a partnership. Soon, Patel, the left-arm spinner, was among the wickets, too, as Mandeep, stepping down the track to try to hit a mighty six, missed the ball altogether and was stumped. A couple of strokes from Ashwin and a few handsome strokes from Brar were the few boundaries scored in the business end leading up to the final over, in which Brar and Hardus Viljoen – who came out to bat after Ashwin was caught in the deep on 12.
Capitals had decided to field three spinners for this contest, Lamichhane the addition to Mishra and Patel. This was perhaps in view of the unit’s effectiveness in the contest on Thursday against Mumbai Indians. But this time, they proved expensive. Lamichhane bagged three wickets but gave away 40 runs in his 10 overs, and the seasoned Amit Mishra gave away 41 runs off four wicketless overs.
Kagiso Rabada, the leading wicket-taker with 21 scalps in the tournament so far, was the pick of the fast bowlers. He took two wickets for 23 runs off his four overs.