Eyeing a maiden IPL title, the fancied Delhi Capitals will face another litmus test in the form of a KKR unit brimming with optimism when the two sides lock horns in the second qualifier on Wednesday. Delhi Capitals failed in their first big test when they lost to Chennai Super Kings in the first qualifier and another defeat will mean there will be no more examination for the strong squad, led by India wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant. Two-time winners KKR will take confidence from their victory against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Monday’s eliminator.
After being put in to bat first, Delhi Capitals batters could only post a below-par 135 for 5 in stipulated 20 overs. KKR bowlers kept things tight for Delhi batters from the start of the innings and prevented their batting-heavy side from posting a decent total on a sluggish Sharjah surface. Delhi Capitals – who lost the Qualifier 1 against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) – were once again off to a slow start in the all-important knock-out game. No batter could provide Delhi with the impetus the team needed all through the innings and as a result coach Ricky Ponting’s boys could only post 135 on the board.
Openers Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan started the innings for Delhi at a slow pace as KKR bowled in the right areas. Shaw was trapped in front by in-form Varun Chakravarthy for 18 in the fifth over. Delhi, thus, lost their opener in the powerplay and the middle-order kept struggling against a quality spin bowling attack from Kolkata. The trio of Chakravarthy, Sunil Narine, and Shakib Al Hasan kept things tight for the opposition batsmen- who couldn’t accelerate their innings.
Senior opener Dhawan top-scored for the side with 36 off 39 deliveries but failed to convert the start into a big knock. The southpaw, who took seven deliveries to get off the mark, was dismissed for 36 off 39 deliveries. Captain Pant had another terrible outing with the bat as he was dismissed for six. Australia all-rounder Marcus Stoinis – who was included in the playing eleven against KKR with an aim to strengthen batting- faced 23 deliveries but could only muster 18 runs in his innings after being sent in to bat at number three.
Later, Shimron Hetmyer and Shreyas Iyer (17 off 10) and Shreyas Iyer (30* off 27 balls) played some shots to take Delhi past the 130-run mark. At the toss, Delhi Capitals’ captain Pant spoke about the inclusion of Stoinis and the decision for dropping England all-rounder Tom Curran. “We needed an extra batsman in these kinds of tracks, so Marcus Stoinis comes in. Tom Curran is out,” Pant said. The decision to include Stoinis looked like a tactical move from coach Ponting and after Delhi batters once again failed to score a decent total on the board meme fest was triggered on social media.
Rahul Tripathi is KKR’s hero. He was watching wickets tumble and all the madness from the other end. But he holds his nerve and hits it out of the park. Heartbreak for R Ashwin. Heartbreak for Delhi Capitals. Joy for Kolkata Knight Riders who reach their 3rd final. Eoin Morgan must be more relieved than happy.
Needing 136 runs to win from 120 balls, Venkatesh Iyer and Shubman Gill got their side off to a blistering start. They stitched an unbeaten half-century opening stand to take KKR to 51/0 by the end of the Powerplay. The duo continued in the same vein, taking KKR to 76/0 in 10 overs. Venkatesh Iyer went on to register his third IPL 50 before being dismissed on 55 by Kagiso Rabada. Varun would have had his third had it not been for a no-ball saving Shimron Hetmyer. Shubman Gill took a brilliant diving catch but it was in vain. Eventually, a late blitz from Shreyas Iyer en route to his unbeaten 30 off 27 balls, took Delhi to 135/5 in 20 overs.