An incredible innings could have ended in a losing cause but ultimately found its right side after a one-sided match-up in the last over, something you hardly see when MS Dhoni is captain. Chennai Super Kings were a bowler short, another rarity in CSK’s folklore with the omnipresent knowledge that Dhoni likes to field with bowling options in abundance.
Shikhar Dhawan notched up his maiden T20 hundred and was aptly backed up by Axar Patel smacking Ravindra Jadeja out of the park three times in the last over allowing Delhi Capitals to fetch two points.
Going into the death overs with 51 to win, Dhawan continued his merry touch. Finding boundaries in every over, he brought the equation down to 21 runs from 12 overs. However, Sam Curran did not allow the DC batsmen to find the fence and dismissed the struggling Alex Carey. Only four runs out of the over put DC's chase under a spot of bother. On the other hand, CSK found themselves a fast bowler short. Dwayne Bravo had left the field due to injury which forced Dhoni to put Jadeja against two left-handers in the last over to defend 17.
Dhawan, having completed his hundred in the previous over, took a single off the first ball after a wide. Axar did the rest. Back-to-back sixes were followed by a couple of runs. With one required from two balls, Axar struck the killer blow to hand DC their first win of the season while chasing.
DC have been lucky that Dhawan has found his Midas touch just when Prithvi Shaw has lost his form. For the third game in a row, Shaw failed to get past the first over handing Deepak Chahar an easy return catch. Ajinkya Rahane faltered as well. This put the onus back on Dhawan to guide DC with the bat alongside his skipper, Shreyas Iyer.
Iyer continued to play the supporting act while Dhawan was the aggressor again. Out of DC’s six boundaries in the Powerplay, Dhawan contributed four.
During the middle-overs, Dhawan put an exhibition of piercing the gap. Toying with the fielding, he struck eight fours during this phase - the most in an innings by any batsman this season. You don’t often see Dhoni struggle to place the field but such was Dhawan’s brilliance, there was no area that could be plugged.
CSK will also rue missing as many as four chances to dismiss Dhawan - on 25, 27, 50 & 79 - probably the only time the left-hander found fielders in an innings otherwise built on pristine strokeplay. To his credit, Dhawan did not commit any rash shots. Learning from his previous innings, he played with calm and only one six in an unbeaten knock of 101 from 58 balls is a testament speaks for his intent. Even the trademark arms-aloft celebration came out when the utmost mission - winning the game - was accomplished.
The partnership between Dhawan and Iyer was crucial in setting up the run chase after a tumultuous start. The duo added 68 runs off 44 balls before Iyer perished in an attempt to find a maximum. Marcus Stoinis did not entertain the prospects of any excessive pressure on Dhawan. Scoring 24 from 14 balls, their stand of 43 runs off 25 balls kept the required run-rate to 10.23 at Stoinis departure, exactly the same as it was at his arrival.
Carey, however, could not keep up to the asking rate managing 4 runs off seven balls but was covered up by Axar’s entertaining 21 off five balls.
A rare off day for Delhi bowlers
The rarities were not limited to the CSK camp. DC bowlers, one of the best in the line-ups, would have been disappointed to concede 179 runs after sending Curran back in the first over. They leaked 67 runs in the last five overs with Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje missing their yorkers.
Ambati Rayudu and Jadeja took full toll of the pace on offer continuously clearing the short boundaries. Rayudu scored an unbeaten 45 off 25 balls while Jadeja, who has been in great form with the bat this season, finished with 33 off just 13. Their partnership added 50 runs for CSK at the death in a matter of only 21 balls.
R Ashwin was taken for 30 runs in his three overs and Stoinis was called up to complete his quota. Axar was the only saving grace bowling his four overs at an economy of 5.75 runs per over.
The old guards to the rescue again
CSK had a similar start with the bat to that of DC. After a subdued beginning, they found their way through the experienced pair of Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis. They added 87 runs from 67 deliveries for the second wicket.
After Watson was castled by Nortje, Rayudu did not take long to get himself going. He took the baton from a tiring du Plessis who went on the do-or-die mode which brought his downfall for 58.
This is the first time Delhi have defeated Chennai twice in a season. It takes Delhi above Mumbai again in their constant tussle to attain the summit of the points table. For CSK, who were still in the race for the Playoffs, the defeat puts them in a precarious situation to string wins together, something they have failed to achieve this year.