Indian T20 League: Hetmyer leads Delhi to victory over Chennai

A resilient Delhi climbed to the top of the table after a three-wicket win over Chennai on Monday. The Rishabh Pant-led side became the first team to register ten wins this season. It was also their fourth consecutive victory over Chennai in the league. Two points in their last match will seal the top spot for Delhi. The three-time champions, who have now lost two fixtures in a row, will be keen to beat Punjab in their last game and grab the second spot.

Delhi showcased their depth in the batting line-up in the thrilling clash held at Dubai International Stadium. Shimron Hetmyer, who came at 7, took the franchise home with an unbeaten 28. Shikhar Dhawan, too, was among the runs. Meanwhile, Axar Patel grabbed two wickets and was economical. He also played a valuable hand with the bat. Despite the defeat, M S Dhoni would be happy that Rayudu kept the innings together. The 36-year-old’s half-century steered Chennai to a decent total. Shardul Thakur took two wickets at an economy of 3.

Batting collapse

Chennai made three changes from the defeat against Rajasthan. Sam Curran and KM Asif made way for Dwayne Bravo and Deepak Chahar. A knee issue for Suresh Raina meant Robin Uthappa made his first start in the 2021 season. Delhi handed Ripal Patel his Indian T20 League debut. The 26-year-old, hailing from Gujarat, replaced Steve Smith.

Delhi bowlers were off to a horrific start as Anrich Nortje conceded 16 runs, and Faf du Plessis struck two fours off Avesh Khan’s first over. But the introduction of Axar changed the course of the innings. Du Plessis holed out to deep midwicket, while Nortje removed Ruturaj Gaikwad in the fifth over. Chennai moved to 48/2 at the end of the powerplay. They lost Moeen and Uthappa in the space of five balls. Patel grabbed the wicket of Moeen, who perished for five. Uthappa departed for 19.

Solid Rayudu

Rayudu and Dhoni led the recovery for Chennai, who were four down for 69 at the halfway mark. The duo focused on picking up the singles and, apart from two fours in Avesh’s second over, didn’t go after the Delhi bowlers. Rayudu brought up Chennai’s 100 with a four in the 17th over. He hammered sixes off Avesh and Nortje and reached a well-deserved half-century. Meanwhile, the 70-run partnership came to an end when Dhoni got out caught behind.

Avesh bowled a terrific final over, conceding just four runs and picking up the wicket of the Chennai skipper. They finished on 136/5. Rayudu remained unbeaten on 55, while Ravindra Jadeja could only face two deliveries.

Dhawan goes berserk

Chahar, who sent Prithvi Shaw back to the dressing room for 18, saw Dhawan score 21 runs off his third over. The left-handed batsman came down the track and clobbered the first ball over long-on. He struck consecutive fours in the next two deliveries. The pacer went around the wicket, but his fortunes remained the same. Dhawan hammered the fourth delivery over the ropes. With six balls remaining in the powerplay, Delhi were just two runs away from 50.

Chennai made another inroad before the end of the powerplay. Shreyas Iyer was caught at cover by Gaikwad. The new man Pant took Moeen to the cleaners. But the Delhi captain fell in the ninth over. He holed out to Moeen at backward point off Jadeja’s bowling. Delhi were 75/3, needing another 62 runs from ten overs.

Hetmyer heroics

Debutant Ripal steered the ball to deep midwicket and fine leg to pick up two fours off Jadeja. The spinner had his revenge as he removed Ripal before his quota of overs. Though with six wickets in hand, Delhi remained the favorites. Shardul Thakur put Chennai back in the game by taking the wickets of Ashwin and Dhawan in quick succession. The required rate climbed to seven for the first time.

Delhi pinned their hopes on Hetmyer and Axar. The West Indies batter went after Bravo, scoring successive fours. Substitute fielder Krishnappa Gowtham dropped a straightforward catch to hand Hetmyer and Delhi a huge reprieve. The overseas batsman registered his first six, leaving Delhi needing six runs off the final over. Though they lost the wicket of Axar, Kagiso Rabada scored the winning runs after clipping the fourth ball to fine leg for a four.

Chennai 136/5 in 20 overs (A Rayudu 55*; R Uthappa 19, A Patel 2/18)

Delhi 139/7 in 19.4 overs (S Dhawan 39, S Hetmyer 28*, S Thakur 2/13, R Jadeja 2/28)

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