Shami masterclass keeps Delhi Capitals down to a low total, but Gujarat Titans’ batting fails to deliver despite late Tewatia slogs
The first 30 minutes of Delhi Capitals’ five-run win over Gujarat Titans made the match in Ahmedabad on Tuesday feel like a foregone conclusion.
A Mohammed Shami masterclass had Delhi slumped at 28-5 after the powerplay. But after a fighting flurry from Aman Khan and Ripal Patel at the death, and some outstanding bowling, the Capitals turned the match around to win their third in a low-scoring thriller.
Tewatia blitz not enough
If Delhi’s powerplay set them up for defeat, Gujarat – who stood at 31-3 after the first six – was nothing to write home about. Khaleel Ahmed started with a wicket-maiden, claiming Wriddhiman Saha off the final ball, and later Shubman Gill, who like Phil Salt in the first innings, played a drive straight into the hands of the fielder at point.
Ishant Sharma then kept the revival alive, outfoxing Vijay Shankar with a knucklet ball, and post powerplay, Gujarat would slip further. Having lost the top-order, David Miller’s dismissal was the most ill-advised of the lot – shuffling across outside off to try to sweep Kuldeep Yadav over fine leg, mising the ball entirely and seeing his middle-stump removed. From there on, skipper Hardik Pandya and Abhinav Manohar would drop anchor to keep the team from collapsing.
Pandya’s well-earned half century had shades of Aman’s innings, but both him and Manohar – who underwhelmed with a 33-ball-26 – struggled to manouever Delhi’s attack for too many boundaries. Ultimately, with 33 needed from the final two overs, it felt as though they had left it too late.
Rahul Tewatia, as usual, had other plans. The specialist finisher arrived onto the crease with the game slipping away, before taking on Anrich Nortje, smashing him for three successive sixes. Two knee-high full tosses, a pacey delivery into the slot, were all slogged onto the leg side to bring Gujarat back into the game.
It was too much of a hill to climb, though, with Ishant bowling a brilliant final over – conceding only six runs and no boundaries – to get Delhi over the line by five runs.
Despite Delhi’s fast bowlers often missing their lengths at the death in search of yorkers, which ended up as low full-tosses — there were three in the last three overs — Hardik, Abhinav, and later Rashid failed to capitalise.
Earlier, Delhi’s batting order simply had no answers to Shami, whose performance with the new ball was indicative of a bowler that has become India’s most reliable, potent one across formats during the injury-induced absence of Jasprit Bumrah.
The first wicket was more of a gift, Shami pitching in a half-volley well outside off which Salt drove straight into the hands of the fielder at cover. In the next over, a comical-erorr running between the wickets would claim the runout of David Warner, and then, Shami would go on a rampage.
The next three wickets would mirror each other. Riley Roussow departed after clipping a good-length ball, that swung late enough to catch him by surprise. Then Manish Pandey was accounted through a similar ball except it was bit fuller than the one that had Roussow, with Wriddhiman Saha completing a diving catch. Priyam Garg, under pressure of the scoreboard, would mis-hit a drive one that didn’t swing.
This was the kind of spell that, irrespective of format and surface, could terrorise any batting line-up.
Aman rescue act
After Shami concluded his spell with spectacular figures of 4-11 in the seventh over, the realisation that Rashid Khan was to come in the middle overs would sink Delhi hearts deeper. But early on Axar Patel, and later Aman Khan, would mount enough of a fight – managing the middle overs well – to carry Delhi to a total of 130.
There were calls for Axar to move up the batting order given the team’s failings in the middle overs. Reserving him for the finish was an understandable move by Delhi, but his arrival in the powerplay was not out of choice. Tasked with calming the storm, the duo would stitch 50-run partnership and get things as steady as they could. Axar would depart off Mohit Sharma’s bowling, but Aman’s late aggression alongside Ripal Patel would get Delhi into the mix.
They got big overs that they desperately needed in the 16th and 17th, with four boundaries and a brilliant six from Aman brought Delhi to a fighting charge in the death. Aman would take off from there, going from 24 off 32 balls to a 44-ball-51, and Ripal helped himself to 23 from 13 balls.
Expectations were still low for Delhi to defend 130, but the ultimate difference would be Aman and Ripal’s late charge, getting a few consistently big overs to give their bowlers something to defend – the kind of charge that Gujarat never found.