Dhawan’s 92 off 49 balls was a statement that screamed he is at the peak of his T20 cricket at 35 years of age. Known for being sublime through the off-side, Dhawan opened up the on-side on Sunday, sending the rather inexperienced Punjab attack into a tizzy. He moved around the crease and worked each of the bowlers through the on-side like with much disdain. None of them were ugly hoicks. If at all, his stroke play matched his famed off-side play. Here’s a man in absolute control of his IPL cricket, to say the least.
Scorecard | Points Table | As it happened
When he lost his stumps in the 15th over of the chase, trying to paddle Jhye Richardson down to fine-leg, he had already stabbed a dagger deep into the spirits of Punjab Kings. Capitals needed 44 off 31 balls at that time with Rishabh Pant and Marcus Stoinis at the crease. That Pant and Steve Smith struggled to get going didn’t matter at all in the chase
Dhawan had largely undone the lackluster performance by the Capitals pacers. Punjab needed Mohammed Shami, only bowler of stature in the international scene, to stand up but he wilted under the pressure of bowling with the wet ball in thankless conditions. He conceded 53 from his quota of four overs as Stoinis took him to the cleaners in his last over. Stoinis, Capitals’ man Friday in the last season, scored an unbeaten 27 off 13 balls with young Lalit Yadav at other end unbeaten on a six-ball 12.
A return to winning ways for @DelhiCapitals! 👏👏Second win for @RishabhPant17 & Co. as they beat Punjab Kings by… https://t.co/aghGt5fLJK
— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) 1618768578000
However, Sunday evening was bizarre by Capitals’ bowling standards. Punjab Kings raced away to post a commanding 195/4 after they were sent in to bat with Mayank Agarwal hitting form with a 36-ball 69 and KL Rahul celebrated his 29th birthday by scoring a 51-ball 61.
Agarwal, not in the best of form over the last five months, got a release of sorts when Capitals captain Rishabh Pant handed the new ball to debutant left-arm seamer Lukman Meriwala in the second over. Agarwal picked up 20 in that over and the Rahul-Agarwal opening duo wore the ominous look for the first time this season. Of course, Steve Smith dropping the fearsome KL Rahul at point off the second ball helped.
Capitals held back their trump card Kagiso Rabada until the last over of the powerplay. And the in-form Avesh Khan was only given the ball in the 10th over. Pant preferred to bowl the inexperienced Meriwala and Lalit Yadav for three overs. By then Agarwal and Rahul were in top gear. The damage was done.
That’s the chase, done and dusted with 11 balls to spare 🔥Stoinis smashes his 300th four in T20s to end our Mumba… https://t.co/dSiwirgsTw
— Delhi Capitals (@DelhiCapitals) 1618767956000
The Wankhede pitch, unlike in the two previous matches, had a bare look and hardly aided any seam movement. The true pace and bounce only made it tougher for the young bowlers as Rahul and Agarwal brought up 100 in 62 balls. Capitals are known to go or wickets right through the 20 overs. The rather defensive approach was a surprise. Rabada, still rusty coming out of quarantine five days ago, didn’t help much either.
Capitals, however, did have a better second half. They didn’t let Punjab run away with the game, conceding under 10 runs per over in the last 10 years. Ravichandran Ashwin and Avesh were at the forefront of Capitals’ mini fightback. Ashwin conceded just 28 off his four overs while hit the block hole consistently to give away 33 in his four overs and also dismissing KL Rahul. Meriwala had his redemption of sorts when he got Agarwal holed out at the cover boundary in the 13th over. Shahrukh Khan’s five-ball 15 in the last over in the innings made sure Punjab fell just five short of 200.