Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
Delhi Capitals 161 for 7 (Dhawan 57, Iyer 53, Archer 3-19) beat Rajasthan Royals (Stokes 41, Nortje 2-33) by 13 runs
(ESPNCRICINFO) There was spine-tingling entertainment in the powerplay thanks to three unbelievably fast bowlers. There was shot-making of the highest quality from both top-orders. But in the end it was a battle between which team could win the final overs.
Delhi Capitals let the game go back in the balance as they managed only 32 for 4 in their last five against Jofra Archer and company. ESPNcricinfo’s forecaster said Rajasthan Royals were favourites (55%) for the chase but they crumbled against Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje, making only 25 for 2 in their final five overs.
The speed demon and the saviours
For 12 balls, the batsmen were helpless. For 12 balls, they couldn’t touch him. Jofra Archer was bowling thunderbolts. He wrecked Prithvi Shaw’s stumps first ball and finished the powerplay with unbelievable figures of 2-0-5-2. His team-mates, though, surrendered 42 runs from their four overs.
Shikhar Dhawan faced only one ball of that furious spell. But he loved feasting on the others. When he hit Kartik Tyagi for an on-the-up cover drive – a shot that is a point of pride – and the ball singed the turf on its way to the fence, it was clear he meant business. Dhawan got to fifty off 30 balls, his fastest while batting first in the IPL. At the other end, Shreyas Iyer concentrated on settling in. On 20 off 23, he decided he was good and hit a no-look, one-handed, flat-batted, straight four off Ben Stokes. It was a free hit so the batsman was always going to go, but to do that to ball coming up to his throat…
Capitals were 132 for 4 in the 16th over. They were ready to launch. But it never happened because because the Royals support act finally turned up. Tyagi dismissed Iyer for 52 and then nailed his yorkers – wide or straight. Archer returned and, apart from one jaw-dropping cut for six from Alex Carey, his menace was intact. Jaydev Unadkat closed it all off with his slower balls, and for all their efforts, the Capitals crashed to the lowest final-five overs aggregate in this year’s IPL – 32 for 4.
A hell-raising powerplay
Not to be outdone, Rabada and Nortje cranked the pace up too, both bowlers hitting 150 kph. They were seething. Jos Buttler took another step towards the AB de Villiers level of 360 batting by nonchalantly scooped a 156 kph ball in line with his stumps to the fine leg boundary. At 22 off 8 balls, he was beginning to look villainous. But then came a decisive blow. Nortje, still bowling 155 kph, wrecked the opener’s stumps and set a theme for a rollicking powerplay. Stokes began charging the bowlers. So Capitals took the pace off and brought on R Ashwin. Their battle never took off, but the offspinner did completely deceive Steven Smith with a ball that held in the pitch and had him caught and bowled for 1. Six overs of outrageous shots, incredible bowling and adrenaline-fuelled cricket yielded 50 for 2.
The extra tense ending
Stokes (41) held the innings together, using his power to break free and provide a steady stream of boundaries. But he fell in the 11th over to debutant Tushar Deshpande, and Sanju Samson followed him eight balls later to leave the Royals at 96 for 4. Robin Uthappa, who is yet to get used to his middle-order role, then ran out Riyan Parag and the equation started looking troublesome: 47 off 36 balls with only five wickets in hand. Nortje turned that untenable when he returned at the death, put Uthappa out of his misery and even ensured there wouldn’t be a Rahul Tewatia miracle.