The Delhi Capitals faced off against the Sunrisers Hyderabad tonight. It was the exuberance of the youth brigade of Shreyas Iyer facing off against the seasoned pros of Hyderabad under David Warner. DC has come off after a dominating win against CSK while SRH has been thoroughly dominated a couple of nights ago by KKR.
Delhi Capitals won the toss and decided to put Warner’s men into bat. SRH did an extremely interesting change to their playing 11 after the annihilation in the hands of KKR. Nabi was replaced by Williamson in the team. While that meant SRH had a much more stable top order, it also meant that the team expected young Abhishek Sharma to deliver 4 full overs.
Strangely enough, despite SRH bolstering their middle order with Williamson, both Warner and Bairstow started cautiously. I thought the entire purpose of bringing in Kane, was to give freedom to both the openers from ball 1, but SRH played a different brand of cricket in the powerplay altogether. Warner was aggressive, but Bairstow played a conservative brand of cricket to take the team total to 38 for no loss at the end of the powerplay.
The first wicket in the game came, courtesy an excellent googly from the veteran pro-Amit Mishra. He is the most under-rated bowler in IPL history, as no one seems to remember that he has the highest number of wickets in this tournament after Malinga. Tonight he fist accounted for Warner with a pitched up googly that caught Warner’s gloves on its way to the keeper. Then after a couple of overs, he dismissed the in-form Pandey with a floated leg spinner, beating the right-hander in flight.
Till the dismissal of Pandey. SRH were scoring at roughly 7 per over, with Bairstow playing an uncharacteristically slow inning. The Williamson injection was something that SRH needed urgently. Williamson started milking the long boundaries for doubles and exploited the shorter boundary to good effect. He used his wrist to maneuver the ball in the gaps-the ideal thing that a batsman should do on these slow pitches.
Kagiso Rabada as usual was excellent with the ball, both in the powerplay and at the death. But for me, the surprise package was Nortje. Anrich Nortje changed up lengths, varied his pace to good effect to restrict both Bairstow and Williamson. Iyer strategically extracted some overs from Stoinis as well, as he was being pretty effective on this sluggish pitch with his heavy ball.
Accurate bowling from both Nortje and Rabada ensured that Williamson and his compatriots did not run away with the game. Williamson was finally dismissed by Rabada after scoring a brisk 41 off 26 deliveries and SRH finished their innings at 162-4 after 20 overs, courtesy a few lusty blows from the impressive Samad.
Delhi Capitals began their second essay disappointingly. Prithvi after a very impressive first game fell cheaply in the first over itself. Bhuvneshwar has been good and economical in the last couple of matches for SRH, but tonight for the first time, he looked like taking wickets. He bowled just short of good length and allowed the pitch to take over, making life difficult for the batsmen. It is excellent news for Indian cricket that Bhuvi is returning to form and is hitting very good lengths. Tonight he accounted for Shaw with an outswinger and then got rid of a dangerous-looking Hetmeyer with an off-pace delivery. Hopefully, he can get his yorkers going from the next match to make life even more miserable for the batsmen in the slog overs.
After Shaw’s early dismissal responsible batting from Iyer and Dhawan ensured that DC got to the end of the powerplay without losing any more wickets. But then madness descended on the Delhi Capitals batting line up. It is elementary knowledge that on a pitch that is slowing up with the oddball sticking to the surface, Rashid Khan is the most potent force for SRH. The approach from DC should have been to just playing out Rashid Khan at 5 runs per over, without conceding a single wicket to him- much like KKR did last night against them.
Instead, the responsible Iyer played a dismaying shot to slice the ball to deep cover in Rashid Khan’s very first over. Further disaster awaited the Delhi Capitals line up, as Shikhar Dhawan, a veteran of 200 international matches decided to take on Rashid in the very next over. This strategy to take on the leg spinner was mindless from the DC think-tank, as SRH was a bowler short tonight and they need to extract 4 overs from young Abhishek Sharma. While the batsmen should have tried to up the ante from Sharma’s end, looking to play out Rashid, they did just the opposite inexplicably.
Delhi Capitals were in the game till the last 4 overs, where they needed just over 50. A set Apnt was there at the crease with an experienced Stoinis at the other end. Rashid came on to bowl the 17th over. Pant, being the careless genius, that he decided to take on Rashid in that over itself. Alarm bells should start ringing in Pant’s ear already, as Samson is playing a mature brand of cricket for the Royals. If he does not learn from his mistakes, as he hasn’t learned till now, it may soon be curtains for him in the Indian national team.
Pant did the same mistake that he did against New Zealand in the WC semifinal. He took on the long boundary against the wind and inevitably holed out to deep square leg. SRH was praying for Pant’s wicket off Rashid, and the left-hander handed the wicket over in gift-wrap to the opposition. After the dismissal of Pant, it was all downhill for the DC camp.
T Natarajan is a bowler, who is looking impressive with every passing match. I praised him in the last match as well as his ability to fire perfect yorkers and off pace deliveries, deserves a compliment. He can team up with Bhuvi to take care of the death for SRH this season. Finally, DC fell short of the SRh target by 15 runs and the men in orange registered their first win on the board this IPL.
DC does not have any issues with team selection. Their batsmen need to be more responsible in picking the right bowler to attack. Mindless cricket like today’s was something I have rarely seen from DC and hopefully, this is the last time we see the same. SRH might have extracted 4 overs from Sharma tonight but against more prudent oppositions, the left-armer may be targeted and taken to the cleaners. If SRH are adamant about playing Williamson, they need to introduce Vijay Shankar in place of Priyam Garg, which gives them an additional bowling option beside Abhishek Sharma to complete the 4 overs.