Delhi Capitals did their top-two chances a world of good on Monday as the Rishabh Pant-led side beat Chennai Super Kings by 3 wickets in Dubai to regain top spot in the table. DC are first with 20 points, and the only way they can now slip out of the top two is if CSK win their last game and RCB win each of their remaining two games by a handsome margin. The Capitals’ last group game is incidentally against the Royal Challengers, thus Pant & Co. have their fate in their own hands.
CSK batters implode after chaotic start
A jaffa, five wides, a successful review from the batsman, Ruturaj Gaikwad, and a loose four leg-byes down the leg-side from the bowler Anrich Nortje. All this happened within the span of one over. This was followed by an equally chaotic start from Avesh Khan in the second over, and in no time CSK were off the blocks, racing off to 26/0 after 2 overs.
However, Faf du Plessis would end up perishing in the next over to Axar Patel, and the dismissal would end up triggering a proper collapse.
Gaikwad, who’d entered the match with scores of 101*, 45, 40, 30 and 88* under his belt, was undone by a rocket bouncer from Nortje, while franchise debutant Robin Uthappa and Moeen Ali perished in the span of six balls, attempting to slog the spinners. In no time 39/1 became 62/4, and the CSK batting line-up, for the first time all season, was put under serious pressure.
The wicket did seem two-paced, and what that meant was it made both the spinners and the pacers threatening. The volatile nature of the wicket was exploited smartly by DC skipper Rishabh Pant, who rotated both the spinners and seamers smartly.
Dhoni’s promotion backfires as Rayudu takes CSK to a respectable total
At 62/4 MS Dhoni decided to promote himself ahead of Jadeja, but what he managed to do was prove to the world why he is, by some distance, the weakest link in this CSK batting line-up. In a painful 27-ball stay, Dhoni managed to score just 18 runs, flabbergastingly striking a grand total of zero boundaries. At no point did he find any sort of rhythm, and the CSK skipper barely timed any deliveries during his extended stay at the middle. What he did do, though, was hang around, and string together a 70-run stand with Ambati Rayudu, who did all the heavy lifting.
Rayudu, like Dhoni, started off excruciatingly slow, but the 36-year-old picked up pace as his innings progressed. The right-hander was 22 off 24 at one stage, but a late flourish meant that he struck 33 off his last 19 balls to take CSK to 136. The biggest disappointment for the Super Kings was that their best finisher Ravindra Jadeja, who has a death-overs SR of 195.45 this season, ended up facing only two balls.
Intent-filled DC lose wickets at regular intervals
CSK needed early wickets to stand a chance but for a while, it looked like they might instead get caught in the Prithvi Shaw storm. The youngster, who entered the game with scores of 6, 10 and 11, raced off to 18 in his first 10 balls, and looked like he was on course to play an explosive knock which was overdue. However, eventually he ended up playing one shot too many as he was dismissed by Josh Hazlewood, who had him caught inside the circle on the off-side.
Shaw’s dismissal seemed like the break CSK needed, but more bad news came their way two overs later as Shikhar Dhawan mauled Deepak Chahar, smashing CSK’s premier pacer for 21 runs in a single over. In the span of six balls, Dhawan helped the side take care of the required run rate.
Dhawan, post the onslaught, stayed put but that wasn’t the case with Shreyas Iyer, who fell in the last over of the powerplay, again to Hazlewood. The Australian went short to Iyer, who got himself into an ugly tangle and chipped one to Ruturaj Gaikwad at cover.
Pant walked in at No.4 with an abundance of intent but his stay was short-lived too. Looking to smash Jadeja into oblivion, the DC skipper top-edged one and walked back to the dressing room for 15 off 12 balls.
DC ended the halfway mark at 75/3, losing wickets at regular intervals and not batting CSK out of the game despite showing plenty of intent.
CSK blink first as Delhi hold nerve to get over the line
Quite fittingly, the game ended precisely the same way it started: in chaotic fashion. Delhi, soon after losing Pant, lost debutant Ripal Patel in the 13th over, and a bizarre tactical move saw them promote Ravichandran Ashwin ahead of Shimron Hetmyer. That backfired and one ball into the 15th over, they were 98-5, well on their way to blowing what was a simple chase. Dhawan perished four balls later, to the excellent Shardul Thakur, and at 99/6, CSK were favorites.
But after two overs of non-action, the turning point of the contest came in the 18th over. Dwayne Bravo, into the attack for the first time in the day, managed to get Hetmyer to mistime one by out-foxing him through a slower delivery. The southpaw was the last specialist batsman for DC, and his ballooned shot was destined to go straight into the hands of the fielder at long-on. However, Krishnappa Gowtham, standing at long-on as a substitute fielder, much to everyone’s disbelief, put the simplest of catches down. Worse, after the drop, the ball rolled to the boundary rope.
It ended up being just the lifeline Delhi needed as they eventually got over the line, on the back of some sensational hitting from Hetmyer. There was drama in the final over, including a no-ball that was not called, but the West Indian ensured that the Capitals got over the line by four wickets.