Delhi Capitals 189 for 3 (Dhawan 78, Hetmyer 42*, Stoinis 38) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad 172 for 8 (Williamson 67, Samad 33, Rabada 4-29, Stoinis 3-26) by 17 runs
The Delhi Capitals came into Qualifier-2 having won just one of their last six games, and another defeat here would have left everyone writing their campaign off as a squandered opportunity. But here they are now, in their maiden IPL final, one win away from glory.
Their performance in this Qualifier was like their season in miniature: they flew out of the blocks, then stuttered, but they kept themselves in the game and won the key moments. Sunrisers Hyderabad, who had won their last four games on the trot, began poorly – with ball and bat as well as in the field – and made up ground later on, but it wasn’t quite enough.
Two key tactical moves paid rich dividends for the Capitals. They opened with Marcus Stoinis for the first time in the season, and he, along with Shikhar Dhawan, rewarded them with their best powerplay of the season. They also brought Shimron Hetmyer back into their side, and his late hitting ensured the Capitals put up a challenging total despite a significant slowdown through the second half of their innings.
Stoinis contributed heavily with the ball as well, taking two wickets in the fifth over of the Sunrisers innings, and then coming back to remove Kane Williamson just when he seemed set to pull off his second chasing masterclass in two games.
Stoinis and Dhawan set the tone
The Capitals’ run of poor form coming into this game had included three games where they had lost by 59, 88 and 57 runs. They didn’t want to be chasing again, and the toss went in their favour. And at one point it seemed as if everything would go in their favour.
Sandeep Sharma and Jason Holder kept the Capitals’ openers to just 11 from the first two overs, and the pressure produced a chance in the third over. Sandeep had bowled inswing to Stoinis with a 5-4 leg-side field, initially achieving an immaculate line, and an attempt to break the shackles led Stoinis to hit in the air, within range of Holder stationed at an unconventional short mid-on, only for the ball to burst out of his outstretched right hand.
Then Sandeep lost his line, strayed too straight, and conceded back-to-back boundaries either side of deep square leg. Stoinis then went after Holder and smacked three fours and a six in the fourth over. Dhawan joined in the fun too, picking up three fours – one of them courtesy a misfield at short fine leg from T Natarajan – and a slog-swept six in the next two overs, and the Capitals ended up with not just their most productive powerplay of the season, but also only their third wicketless one, ending it 65 for 0.
See off Rashid, feast on Nadeem, slow down at the finish
Rashid Khan hadn’t bowled a single powerplay over this season, coming into this game, and he didn’t bowl one here either. Perhaps it was a missed opportunity from the Sunrisers, who instead used the already smarting Sandeep and the left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem in the fifth and sixth over.
Rashid came on immediately after the powerplay, and struck in his second over, bowling Stoinis with a quick legbreak that ripped past the closed face of his bat. But while he continued to test the batsmen, they didn’t look to go after him, and he ended his four overs with figures of 1 for 26.
The Capitals wouldn’t have minded that, given their start, and they made up against the unfortunate Nadeem, whom the Sunrisers ostensibly used to target the right-handed Stoinis and Shreyas Iyer, but who ended up running into the left-handed Dhawan instead. By the time he bowled his fourth over, Hetmyer had replaced Iyer and there were two left-handers at the crease, but the Sunrisers didn’t have a sixth bowling option to turn to. Nadeem struggled for control right through, and he finished with figures of 4-0-48-0, with Dhawan tonking him for 29 off 14 balls.
At the 16-over mark, the Capitals were 145 for 2, and 200 seemed on the cards when Natarajan and Holder conceded a combined 31 from the 17th and 18th overs, with Hetmyer rampaging his way to 34 off 15. But Sandeep and Natarajan came back strongly in the last two overs largely by nagging away in the blockhole, with the left-armer Natarajan more or less nailing six yorkers in the final over. Only 13 came off the last two, and no boundaries. The Capitals had made 102 in their first 10 overs, but only 87 in their last 10.
More to follow…