Despite an unbeaten 70 from Sanju Samson, Delhi eased past Rajasthan at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Saturday’s opening fixture. With an eighth win in the season, Delhi retained the top spot in the points table, while Rajasthan, who claimed a narrow victory over Punjab on Tuesday, slumped to a fifth defeat. Kumar Sangakkara, the Rajasthan head coach, would have been disappointed as his team had won three of their last four matches in the tournament.
Anrich Nortje shone again with two wickets, while his fellow pacers Kagiso Rabada and Avesh Khan, too, grabbed a wicket each. Shreyas Iyer and Shimron Hetmyer made telling contributions with the bat. Meanwhile, Samson fought a lone battle for Rajasthan. The top-order fell cheaply, and they were never in a comfortable position throughout the run chase.
Iyer leads recovery
Delhi, put in to bat first, went with just three overseas players. Marcus Stoinis, who suffered a hamstring injury during the match against Hyderabad, made way for all-rounder Lalit Yadav. Rajasthan, too, made changes as South African duo David Miller and Tabraiz Shamsi replaced Evin Lewis and Chris Morris.
Uncapped pacer Kartik Tyagi and Chetan Sakariya struck in the powerplay and removed both openers. Shikhar Dhawan chopped the bowl onto the stumps, while Prithvi Shaw skied the ball to Liam Livingstone at mid-off.
Iyer and Rishabh Pant scored boundaries in the last over of the powerplay and took Delhi to 36/2. Though the attacking shots didn’t come often during the partnership, the pair rotated the strike well. Iyer upped the tempo by taking Rahul Tewatia and Shamsi to the cleaners. The third-wicket stand crossed 50. However, much to the delight of Rajasthan fans, Pant dragged the ball onto the stumps in the 12th over. It was Mustafizur who broke the 62-run stand.
Pant’s dismissal brought Hetmyer into the middle. But, a few balls later, Iyer headed to the dressing room after a smart glove work from Samson, who effected a quick stumping to dismiss the former Delhi captain for 43. The last season’s finalists were still ten runs away from reaching the 100-mark. Samson threw the ball to the seamers. Hetmyer went after Sakariya and Tyagi, hitting five fours in eight balls.
The 24-year-old’s quickfire innings came to an end in the 16th over. Sakariya took a comfortable catch at short third man off Mustafizur’s bowling. Delhi finished on 154/6 in 20 overs thanks to the lower-order, who added 34 runs in the last four overs. Mustafizur was the pick of the bowlers in the death overs. He registered figures of 2/21.
Mustafizur Rahman didn’t concede a single boundary at death👌
— CricTracker (@Cricketracker) September 25, 2021
Lewis’ absence meant Livingstone opened the batting with Yashasvi Jaiswal. The Englishman fell to Avesh in the first over of the innings. He came down the track but got a faint edge, which carried to Pant behind the stumps. In a double blow, Jaiswal nicked the ball to the Delhi captain. However, on-field umpire Chris Gaffaney gave it not out. Pant took the review, and the third umpire reversed the decision.
Miller gifted Ashwin his first wicket of the UAE leg. He came down the track to the off-spinner, only to miss the ball and give Pant an easy stumping. The inaugural Indian T20 League champions were reeling at 17/3. The pressure piled on Samson. He scored Rajasthan’s first boundary in the seventh over. At the other end, Mahipal Lomror struck a six off Ashwin. Rajasthan was 48/3 at the end of ten overs.
Ravichandran Ashwin is only the third India bowler to pick up at least 250 T20 wickets.
— Wisden India (@WisdenIndia) September 25, 2021
A fifty in vain
The Jaipur-based franchise lost their way again when Lomror holed out to Avesh at deep fine leg. The all-rounder departed for 19. New man Riyan Parag lasted only seven balls as Axar Patel picked up his first wicket to leave Rajasthan in deep trouble. Samson splashed three boundaries off Rabada in the 15th over. But the required rate was almost 15 runs per over.
Rahul Tewatia made his way back to the pavilion for nine. Meanwhile, Rajasthan needed 54 off the last 12 balls. Samson reached his half-century in the penultimate over of the match. However, there were no celebrations as Delhi cruised to a 33-run win.
Hetmyer makes the difference
Middle overs are one of the most crucial junctures in T20 cricket. It plays a decisive role in the outcome of the match. On Friday, Bangalore’s defeat against Chennai was mainly due to poor batting in the last seven overs. If not for Hetmyer’s 16-ball 28, Delhi could have struggled against Rajasthan. The quickfire knock, which included five boundaries, paved the way for a good total.
Delhi 154/6 in 20 overs (S Iyer 43, S Hetmyer 28; M Rahman 2/22, C Sakariya 2/33)
Rajasthan 121/6 in 20 overs (S Samson 70*; A Nortje 2/18, R Ashwin 1/20)