Delhi Capitals survived a scare before Shimron Hetmyer played a match-winning cameo to steer them to a thrilling three-wicket victory against Chennai Super Kings in their IPL match in Dubai on Monday. With the victory, Delhi has gone on the top of the standings with 20 points. Despite the fact that both the teams have already qualified for the play-offs the match was of paramount importance. Both Chennai and Delhi want to finish on the top spot to avoid the jitters of going through a grueling eliminator. The team, which finishes on the top of the table will play in the first qualifier with the fourth-placed team.
The winner of the first qualifier will directly book a spot in the final of the tournament. In the eliminator, the second and the third-placed finishers will take on each other. The winner of the eliminator will play with the loser of the first qualifier. The winner of the second qualifier will meet the winner of the first qualifier in the title showdown. Shradul Thakur and Ravindra Jadeja wreaked havoc as Delhi kept on losing the wicket at regular intervals and struggled in the chase of the modest total of 136/5. Shikhar Dhawan gave a blazing start to Delhi and added 24 runs with Prithvi Shaw before Deepak Chahar got rid of the latter to break the dangerous-looking opening-wicket stand.
After the departure of Shaw, Dhawan carried on the good work and shared a 27-run stand for the second wicket with Shreyas Iyer. So dominant was Dhawan, that in the 27-run partnership, Iyer’s contribution was only two runs, 25 came off the bat of Dhawan. After Iyer was dismissed cheaply, the onus fell on the shoulders of Pant and Dhawan to take the match forward. Dhawan took the back seat and preferred to play the sheet-anchor role as Pant did most of the scoring. Jadeja struck in quick successions and dismissed Pant and Ripal Patel as Delhi was reduced to 93/4.
Suddenly, what should have been an easy target turned into a herculean task. Shradul Thakur also swung into action and sent back Ashwin and Dhawan within a space of five balls to leave Delhi tottering at 99-6. Hetmyer took the charge in his hands and added 36 runs with Patel for the seventh wicket to bring the equation down to two needed off four balls before Bravo removed the latter to tilt the match again. But Rabada smashed a boundary to put all the doubts to rest as Delhi reached the target for the loss of seven wickets with two balls remaining.
Earlier, Avesh Khan and Axar Patel ran through the top-order of the Chennai batting line-up. Chennai batsmen did not look like a pale shadow of what they were against Rajasthan. Delhi’s bowling is undisputedly strongest in the tournament. The pair of Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada makes a lethal combination. But of late, it is the duo of spinner Patel and pacer Khan who are making the waves. After getting off to a decent start, Chennai’s innings were derailed in the middle by Patel and Khan, who bowled in tandem to push them on the back foot.
Ruturaj Gaekwad and Faf Du Plessis put up 28 runs for the first wicket before Patel broke the partnership to give Delhi the first breakthrough. The wily spinner had the former South African captain caught by Iyer. Nortje also struck two overs later as Gaikwad, the centurion of the last match against Rajasthan, holed out to Ashwin after a watchful 13 off as many balls as Chennai lost their second wicket with just 39 runs on the board. Moeen Ali again failed with the bat as he became the second victim of Patel after scoring just 5 runs as Chennai was reduced to 59-3.
Dhoni was caught by Pant off Khan while trying to propel the score to a fighting total as Chennai mustered 136/5. This is the third consecutive match Rabada has gone wicket-less, though he was economical, conceding only 21 runs from his four overs.