Skipper David Warner found his perfect hitting arc after Ishant Sharma rolled back the years but even then Delhi Capitals stuttered badly in a modest chase before beating Kolkata Knight Riders by four wickets on Thursday, April 20, 2023, to stay afloat in this edition of the IPL.
With their backs to the wall after five defeats on the trot, the DC bowling line-up collectively came to the party as KKR managed only 127 on a spicy deck which aided both pacers and spinners alike.
Warner, DC’s best batter this season, was struggling with his strike-rate in earlier games but on Thursday, he smashed 57 off 41 with the target being reached with four balls to spare.
The DC batting, save Warner looked wobbly once again but a below-par score perhaps saved the day for the home team as the ball started gripping in the second half of the chase making it difficult for strokeplay. Axar Patel (19 not out off 22 balls) despite a groin strain managed to take his team past the finishing line.
DC’s victory was about two veterans winning the Powerplay contest for their team.
The 34-year-old Ishant (2/19 in 4 overs), who is well past his prime, got his first opportunity and used his oodles of experience to peg back KKR inside the ‘Bowling Powerplay’.
The 36-year-old Warner then showed his destructive avatar hitting as many as 10 boundaries in the ‘Batting Powerplay’ to kill the contest and earn his team’s first win of the competition.
The manner in which he swept, the two KKR spinners Sunil Narine and Anukul Roy hardly had any answers. In all, he hit 11 boundaries.
The win doesn’t alter DC’s standing in the points table as they remain last but the victory does give them hope for a turnaround.
Once Warner won a good toss and opted to field, Ishant, playing his first IPL match in over two seasons, was bang on target with 13 dot balls and hitting those immaculate three-quarter lengths, just like yesterday.
In rhythm, he still hits 140 clicks but once he was done with his four overs, he literally collapsed in the dug-out chair as Prithvi Shaw came in as ‘Impact Player’.
His India days are well over and Ishant certainly would like to remain an ‘IPL to IPL’ player till his body allows him to take rigours of top flight cricket.
Mukesh Kumar (1/34 in 4 overs) also bowled well in the Powerplay while Axar (2/13 in 3 overs), who hasn’t enjoyed favourable match-ups against left-handers, removed the dangerous Rinku Singh as KKR lost wickets in clumps.
If Ishant, Mukesh and Axar were brilliant in the front 10, Kuldeep Yadav (2/15 in 3 overs), who got Jason Roy (43 off 39 balls), was brilliant as he created doubts in the minds of the batters by varying his pace.
The pitch had a liberal tinge of green and Anrich Nortje (2/20 in 4 overs) bowled an ideal Test match length and the grass covering helped in a bit of deviation as in-form Venkatesh Iyer just managed to dangle his bat and the ball flew to Mitchell Marsh standing at first slip.
It was undoubtedly the ball of the innings but credit goes to Ishant as he didn’t let Roy get away with a good start.
The bit of moisture after a delayed start due to steady drizzle had also freshened up the track and the bit of extra bounce found the batters in a bit of a problem.
Mukesh got rid of Litton Das, who miscued a pull, and the ball that Ishant bowled to dismiss Nitish Rana reared up and he couldn’t check his lofted shot.
However, the wicket that completely changed the course was Rinku’s slog sweep and the ball bounced tad extra to take the top edge and flew at a comfortable height for Lalit Yadav to catch it at deep square leg.
Once Rinku was gone, KKR batting unit seemed like losing the battle in its head as Andre Russell (38 not out off 31 balls), despite hitting four sixes, couldn’t do enough to get his team to a par-score which was surpassed easily.
Kolkata Knight Riders: 127 all out in 20 overs (Jason Roy 43, Andre Russell 38 not out; Axar Patel 2/13).
Delhi Capitals: 128 for 6 in 20 over (David Warner 57; Varun Chakaravarthy 2/16).