Shikhar Dhawan put up a batting masterclass and helped Delhi Capitals defeat Punjab Kings by six wickets in a high-scoring encounter at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday (April 18). The flamboyant left-hander crafted 92 off 49 deliveries and played a key role in helping Delhi chase down a target of 196 with utmost ease in Match 12 of the Indian Premier League 2021. Rishabh Pant and Co. have now won two of their three games and are currently at No. 3 in the points table, while Punjab are languishing at No. 7.
Asked to bat, KL Rahul (51-ball 61) and Mayank Agarwal (36-ball 69) put on 122 runs for the first wicket - the highest by any opening pair against Delhi in the history of IPL. The latter was phenomenal but Rahul wasted way too many deliveries and it was largely because of him Punjab fell at least 20-25 runs short. There was a lot of dew in the second innings and the conditions were extremely difficult for the bowlers. The run-chase from Delhi was almost perfect. Prithvi Shaw (17-ball 32) got them off to a flying start, while Marcus Stoinis (13-ball 27*) and Lalit Yadav (6-ball 12*) finished the job with 10 deliveries to spare.
The night however belonged to Dhawan. The opener missed out on his third IPL century by just eight runs but was completely authoritative with his approach in the second innings. Dhawan slammed 13 fours and two maximums during his stay in the middle and in the process also became the owner of the Orange Cap this season. He registered his 45th 50+ score in IPL, one more than Virat Kohli. Only David Warner (53) has more 50+ scores than him in the history of this tournament.
AGARWAL MAKES AN IMPACT, RAHUL NOT SO MUCH
Having failed to make an impression in the first two encounters, Agarwal looked in fine touch from the word go. He took the attack to the opposition bowlers from the onset, hitting boundaries and sixes at will. The right-hander from Karnataka hit the ground running in the second over itself when he smashed debutant Lukman Meriwala for two fours and a six in a space of four deliveries. Agarwal was the aggressor, while Rahul took his ample time to get going. The latter scored at a strike rate of less than 100 till the seventh over before finally changing gears.
Most of the Delhi bowlers looked clueless against Agarwal who constantly scored at a strike rate of more than 200. Punjab raced to 94 for no loss at the end of 10 overs and looked like they would easily get somewhere around 210-220 runs. Then came the Kagiso Rabada over in which Agarwal and Rahul clobbered three sixes. One of the best bowlers of the current generation, Rabada was greeted with a six over long-off by Agarwal before getting hit for another one on the very next delivery. Rahul too joined the party as the South African paceman finished with figures of 1/43.
Agarwal completed his fifty off just 25 deliveries but couldn't carry on, becoming Meriwala's maiden IPL victim. He slammed seven fours and four maximums in his knock before getting caught at sweeper cover. Avesh Khan, Meriwala and R Ashwin pulled things back a bit after that Rabada over and also got rid of Rahul. Chris Gayle (11) and Nicholas Pooran (9) didn't fire but Deepak Hooda (13-ball 22*) and Shahrukh Khan (5-ball 15*) managed to smoke a couple of lusty blows to propel Punjab closer to that 200-run mark.
DHAWAN ACES YET ANOTHER CHASE
Dhawan, who scored 85 against Chennai Super Kings in Delhi's first game of the season, smacked Arshdeep Singh (1/22) for a boundary in the first over to get the ball rolling but Delhi needed Shaw to fire. Mohammed Shami almost squared him up very early in the run-chase but the dynamic right-hander responded in some style, lofting the paceman over long-on for the first six of the innings. Having played on this surface all his life, Shaw made the most of what was an ordinary bowling performance from the Punjab bowlers.
He fell to his Under-19 teammate Arshdeep, while Steve Smith (9) and Pant (15) failed to get going. Dhawan however looked unfazed and almost single-handedly dominated the middle overs. The left-hander hit Hooda for back-to-back boundaries and then slogged Richardson for his first six of the night in the 10th over. He managed at least one boundary in almost every over and kept the required rate under control.
It was in the 14th over where Dhawan killed the game. The 35-year-old smoked Riley Meredith for three consecutive fours and literally toyed with the field. There was five wides too as Delhi accumulated 18 runs from the 14th over. He was dismissed by Richardson but Stoinis and Yadav batted smartly and aggressively and helped Delhi cross the line. Shami (0/53), Richardson (2/41) and Meredith (1/35) were pretty mediocre, but Arshdeep once again made quite an impression.