Set a target of 196 by Gujarat Lions, Delhi Daredevils’ chase didn’t play out nearly as well as the one at the Feroz Shah Kotla few days ago, but the end result was the same. This time, it was Shreyas Iyer, who hit a fine 96 to guide the visitors to a thrilling two-wicket win at the Green Park Stadium in Kanpur for a consolation win, pushing last year’s table-toppers to the seventh spot in the points table.
Shaky start for GLWhile Ishan Kishan kept finding the odd boundary almost every over, DD kept removing his partners at the other end in the powerplay. Dwayne Smith was undone by some lazy running, falling well short to depart on 8. Kishan counter-attacked with a six and boundary but Pat Cummins struck next, to clean up the Lions’ skipper with a fuller length delivery. The powerplay had yielded 50 for the loss of two key wickets and Amit Mishra too struck soon after. The youngster tried to take on the senior spinner but top-edged the third delivery – after a couple and a boundary – to Zaheer Khan at short fine leg. DD’s troubles though were far from over.
Finch, DK turn the tables on DDAt 56 for 3, DD had a good chance of restricting the home side to a par score on a pitch deemed ‘sluggish’ but the Finch-Karthik partnership swayed the momentum in Lions’ favour quite quickly. The duo added 92 runs together in under 10 overs to spark some life into an otherwise dead contest. Finch was particularly aggressive towards Mishra, hitting the leggie for back-to-back sixes quite effortlessly in the ninth over. Karthik wasn’t too far behind either, finding the fence nearly as often as his partner. It took a monumental effort in the deep by Corey Anderson, who has pulled off quite a few stunners like this by now, to separate the duo as Karthik fell for 40. Finch, in a typical counter attack, plucked 11 more off the over. He brought up his fifty – seventh and maximum for Lions’ across the two seasons – with a flat six over long on, and then punished Cummins some more before eventually falling to Mohammad Shami. His 39-ball assault, however, ensured GL had a commanding total on board – 195. But was this going to be enough for the same opposition which had chased down their 200-plus target in the reverse fixture with more than two overs to spare.
Pant’s brain-fade momentFor a player who has 186 runs against an opposition – more importantly, who almost single-handedly scripted a 209-run chase a week ago – it is criminal to be getting out the way Rishabh Pant did tonight. There could absolutely be no excuse for not keeping your bat grounded and wasting your wicket in the process. Pradeep Sangwan went up in appeal for an LBW and Pant got so caught up with it that he forgot to ground his bat after aborting the idea of a single. He mindlessly stepped out of his crease and Raina in the slips was quick to hit the bullseye. Pant took a moment to realise what had happened since he backtracked. A bizarre run out was the last thing Delhi needed in the tall chase.
Iyer masters the tricky chaseSanju Samson started the way he does but was in and out in a jiffy. Pant’s brainfade reduced DD to 15 for 2 at the end of two overs, in a chase of 196. GL would have heaved a sigh of relief seeing the back of the two men who took the game away from them the other night. But, at a time when many expected them to collapse like they have more often than not in this season, the visitors found a new hero to anchor the chase. Shreyas Iyer had played a few handy knocks in this edition but none where he stole the thunder. Today, GL were at the receiving end as the Mumbai batsman notched up his best score in IPL. Iyer struck two crucial partnerships – with Karun Nair and Cummins – to put DD on the brink of another last-over finish. Nair’s quick cameo – 30 off 15 – gave Iyer enough time to settle in. James Faulkner got the breakthrough and a mid-innings crisis ensued where DD lost Marlon Samuels, Anderson and Carlos Brathwaite in quick succession. But Iyer held one end together and marched on to his half-century with some delicate boundaries.
With 75 required off the final six overs, Iyer pushed the accelerator and Cummins fed off that confidence. Together, the duo landed a telling blow by adding 61 runs in 27 deliveries to reduce the equation to 23 required off 18. The 15th over from Sangwan went for 17, Dhawal Kulkarni gave away 14 in the next and Faulkner leaked 21 in the 17th over that all but clinched the fate of the game. The duo fell in the space of six balls, but in Mishra, Delhi found an unlikely hero with the bat to seal the deal.
The see-saw final overIyer and Shami avoided a single off the final ball of the penultimate over to ensure the former was on strike with nine to get off the final six deliveries. With Iyer batting in the 90s, there was only one result possible but GL ensured it wasn’t going to be as easy. The Mumbai star escaped a run-out after risking a couple because the fielder from fine leg couldn’t nail a direct hit. And then the anti-climax. Basil Thampi, much like what he did in the reverse fixture, sent the anchor of DD’s chase back, marginally short of what would have been a well-deserved ton. With seven required off the remaining four and tail-enders in the middle, GL would have fancied their chances of a dramatic come-from-behind win. But Mishra had other plans. The leggie shimmied down the track, took it on like a full toss and found the deep mid-wicket fence. In their tournament opener against RCB, his inability to rotate strike with Pant had cost DD the game but this time, the veteran redeemed himself with a cheeky scoop wide of the keeper. The fine leg fielder put in his best effort but couldn’t stop the ball from rolling over to the other side of the fence.
Where do they go from hereThis was an inconsequential game for both sides, and so are their remaining ones. For the record, DD and GL have now swapped positions in the points table to be placed sixth and seventh respectively. Daredevils return home to Feroz Shah Kotla, where they take on RPS and RCB in a space of three days. GL play their final game against SRH on Saturday, at home.
Brief scores: Gujarat Lions 195/5 in 20 overs (Aaron Finch 69, Dinesh Karthik 40, Ishan Kishan 34; Mohammad Shami 1-36) lost to Delhi Daredevils 197/8 in 19.4 overs (Shreyas Iyer 96, Karun Nair 30, Pat Cummins 24; James Faulkner 2-39, Basil Thami 1-43) by two wickets.