Notwithstanding the pleasure and beauty of rhythmic sporting action, it's never easy being a sports fan. Your fortunes ebb and fall with your team, and they are as capricious as a lover's moods – and not unlike the latter, there is little you can do about it. Being a Delhi Capitals fan before 2018 was a fortune laden with frustrations but that was just part of an overall sporting dichotomy, designed to test your presence.
As Shubh would tell you the rebirth he felt when Shreyas Iyer marshaled the side with some prudence in 2019 and guided the side to their first final in the subsequent season. In simpler terms, this was the beginning of a journey that every cricket fan would bow to.
The first doubleheader of the second leg of the 2021 IPL witnessed another chapter in the growth story as the bowling unit restricted the Royals to 121 for six after the team put on board 154 for six on the back of Shreyas Iyer's 43 and a late flourish provided by Shimron Hetmyer, who scored 28 runs off 16 balls.
After Sanju Samson decided to bowl first, Royals pacers - led by Mustafizur Rahman - seemed to be in imperious touch with Rahman returning with a 2/22 figure with Chetan Sakariya (2/33) and Kartik Tyagi (1/40) assisting him in the right way. Tyagi, the star of the match against Punjab Kings, drew first blood, as Orange Cap holder Shikhar Dhawan looked to play a good length delivery but the ball rolled back to hit the timber.
Prithvi Shaw (10) soon followed his opening partner back to the dugout, slicing the ball off Sakariya to Liam Livingstone at mid-off. At the end of the powerplay, the Capitals were precariously placed at 36 runs for the loss of two wickets.
With spin introduced in the seventh over Iyer (43 off 32 balls) and skipper Rishabh Pant (24 off 24 balls) started to repair the damage caused by the loss of the openers. In IPL since 2020, Iyer and Pant have batted together in 11 innings and have had seven 50+ partnerships. They have averaged 62.3 and scored at an SR of 131.1. They stayed true to their character and stitched a 62-run partnership to keep the scoreboard ticking while also hitting the occasional boundaries at the huge Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
As the two Delhi batters found their footing, Rahman was brought back into the attack and the move immediately paid dividends as Pant, looking to hook the ball away, ended up getting an under edge. Samson then showed his skills with gloves to stump Iyer, who failed to stretch his back foot inside the crease as wickets continued to tumble at regular intervals.
Shimron Hetmyer, who was striking the ball well, then upped the ante, hitting three boundaries off Tyagi to plunder 16 runs in the 16th over. The big-hitting West Indian, who hit five fours, scored a brisk 28 off 16 balls.
Defending a modest total, pacers Khan and Nortje provided the electric start that the Capitals needed, sending back both openers -- Liam Livingstone (1) and Yashasvi Jaiswal (5) in the first two overs. Pant made a bowling change by bringing in Ashwin and the senior Indian spinner got rid of the dangerous David Miller (7) to leave the Royals tottering at 17 for 3.
With the required run rate increasing, Rajasthan needed 107 runs in the last 10 over. Samson and young Mahipal Lomror (19) seemed to be reviving the innings but the ever-reliant Rabada nipped the partnership in the bud. Riyan Parag (2) and Rahul Tewatia (9) couldn't provide a valuable contribution either. Samson was going strong, hitting boundaries at will but the Delhi bowlers came back strongly.
Delhi Capitals will take on Kolkata Knight Riders on September 28 while Rajasthan Royals will lock horns with Sunrisers Hyderabad on Monday.