The Delhi Capitals (DC) faced the mighty Punjab Kings (PBKS), on Sunday evening, in a palatable encounter between two highly lucrative sides. DC came into the game on the back of a stellar victory over the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), and a victory on Sunday would take them to the top of the table. PBKS, on the other hand, have had a choppy start to the season, having lost three of their last seven games – before the game on Sunday. The previous encounter between the two sides delivered a high-scoring thriller, with DC taking the spoils of victory. Sunday’s game was played in Ahmedabad, with the pitch seeming to favour the chasing team. DC won the toss and put PBKS into bat, backing their impressive record of chasing totals in this season of the IPL. PBKS got off to a slow start, but an outstanding effort by Mayank Agarwal help them post a modest total. However, in their reply, DC began aggressively and took the game away from PBKS, cruising to a comprehensive victory.
PBKS struggled to get going from the start. With the captain, KL Rahul left out of a squad due to acute appendicitis, Prabhsimran Singh replaced him, opening the batting alongside Mayank Agarwal. DC pacers applied pressure from the start, offering no-lose balls in the first two overs. The bowlers bowled tight lengths, and in the fourth over, Singh lost his wicket to Kagiso Rabada. Singh’s dismissal brought Chris Gayle to the crease, and he began aggressive fashion. Gayle began his innings with a couple of boundaries, but PBKS still lagged in scoring with only 18 runs to show on the board at the end of four overs. Gayle unleased in the next, overtaking 11 runs of Avesh Khan but was dismissed in the sixth over, soon after hitting a maximum, by Rabada after missing a full toss which went to shatter the stumps. PBKS ended up taking 39 of the power-play overs, with Agarwal looking steady at the crease. The middle-overs saw the boundaries dry up as the DC spinners stifled the PBKS batsmen for runs. Agarwal rotated the strike and hit the occasional boundary allowing Dawid Malan to settle into his innings at the other end. PBKS had only 63 runs to show on the board at the halfway mark, scoring at a little over six runs per over. In the 13th overs, the pair brought up their half-century stand, with both looking sets to go up a gear.
However, Axar Patel managed to provide two breakthroughs in sending both Malan and Deepak Hooda back to the pavilion. Patel slowed down the run rate in the middle overs, conceding just 10 runs in his 3 overs. The death overs saw a push from Agarwal as he increased his scoring rate with wickets falling. Agarwal brought up his half-century in the 16th over, single-handedly propelling PBKS to a defendable total. With Shahrukh Khan and Chris Jordan losing their wickets in the 18th and 19th over, Agarwal launched a final charge in the 20th over, managing to score 22 runs of the six deliveries. Agarwal finished on 99(58), ensuring PBKS put on a respectable total of 166 on the board. Patel was the pick of DC’s bowlers, posing figures of 21/1 of four overs.
DC began their innings with brute aggression. The regular partnership of Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan opened the batting for DC, putting pressure on the PBKS bowlers. Shaw began handsomely, contributing 16 of the 24 runs scored at the end of the second over. The opening batsmen targeted Mohammed Shami as he conceded 24 in his first two overs. Dhawan played some fancy shot and rotated the strike. The pair brought up their 50 run partnership in the sixth over and put up 63 runs at the end of the power-play. Soon after the power-play, Shaw lost his wicket to Harpreet Brar in the seventh over. Steve Smith and Dhawan steadied the innings in the middle-overs, with Smith, in particular, taking the onus on scoring boundaries. The pair targeted young spinner Ravi Bishnoi, taking him apart for 42 runs in his four overs. In the 12th over, however, Smith lost his wicket to Riley Meredith, following a blissful start to the innings. With Dhawan and Rishabh Pant at the crease, DC were favourites to win the game. Dhawan and Pant unleased in the 14th over, taking 15 runs off it. Pant, however, lost his wicket in the 17th over, with a victory seeming effortlessly in DC’s grasp. Dhawan safely guided DC to victory, with Shimron Hetmyer finishing it off in style, scoring the remaining 18 runs in a single over. Agarwal was awarded the man of the match for his scintillating 99 runs in the first innings.