Delhi Capitals had to win their 12th match on Wednesday if they were to remain in the race for the Play Offs. For Rajasthan Royals, a win would have sealed their place in the top four.
DC bowlers were on the money after choosing to bowl as their medium-pacers Chetan Sakariya, Mitchell Marsh and Anrich Nortje picked up two wickets apiece to restrict RR to 160 for six. Helped by Marsh’s ruthless batting while making 89 in 62 balls with five fours and seven sixes, and his 144-run partnership for the second wicket with opener and fellow Australian David Warner (52 not out, 41 balls, 5x4, 1x6), DC won by eight wickets with 11 deliveries to spare at the DY Patil Stadium on Wednesday,
The win did not change the position in the points table, though. RR stayed in third position with 14 points. While RR need to win both at least one of their remaining two matches if they are to be in the hunt for the Play Offs, DC, who are fifth with 12 points, need to win both their last two fixtures for the same qualification.
The Warner-Marsh partnership made it a one-sided affair for DC in the end with the former batting till the end and did not take any chances while the latter went after the RR bowling and stepped up the scoring rate, dealing in sixes.
In the first half of the match, it seemed that run making was not that easy on a pitch at the venue that was hosting its 18th match in six-and-a-half weeks, though different surfaces have been used. It was a tricky pitch that the bowlers with disciplined line and length were rewarded. Anything short was pulled handsomely while against the spinners, use of the feet to negate the turn and go for maximum was what the doctor had ordered.
Royals did not get going as the Orange Cap holder and scorer of three centuries this season, Jos Buttler, fell for just seven in the third over to left-arm pacer Chetan Sakariya. It was a testing first over from Sakariya to Buttler in which the bowler started celebrating for a caught behind to one that had completely beaten the Englishman. However, there was no bat involved. After Buttler managed to get a four from the bottom of his bat off Anrich Nortje full toss in the next over, he brought about his own downfall in Sakariya’s second over, driving straight to mid-on.
Ravichandran Ashwin, promoted to No. 3, and not for the first time this IPL, though, was supposed to accelerate the scoring. Even he found the going not to his liking. Barring a lofted six straight off left-arm spinner Axar Patel and another one coming down the track off left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav over long-on, it was rotating of the strike in the middle overs with opener Yashasvi Jaiswal, who could make only an even-ball 19. The duo shared 43 in 32 balls for the second wicket.
Ashwin and No. 4 Devdutt Padikkal looked to not lose wickets during their 53-run stand for the third wicket coming in 36 balls. Padikkal used the pace of the bowlers to find boundaries, twice glancing fine while a reverse hit and a hit straight into the sightscreen off Axar Patel fetched him the two sixes.
An upper cut off Sakariya for four took Ashwin to his highest ever IPL score, surpassing his previous best of 45 (for Punjab Kings in 2018) and soon after reaching his fifty with a single, he skied Mitchell Marsh off the top portion of the bat to give a simple catch to mid-off. Padikkal missed his fifty by two runs as, in going for a big hit against Nortje, he could not clear the substitute fielder Kamlesh Nagarkoti at point boundary.
It was surprising that Ashwin was sent ahead of some of the better strikers of the ball including the South African Rassie van der Dussen, who got a game in place of Shimron Hetmyer, who flew home for the birth of his child. The likes of Sanju Samson, Riyan Parag and van der Dussen himself could hardly make an impression with the bat as the six Royals wickets was shared equally by the three medium-pacers Sakariya, Marsh and Nortje using the slowness of the surface and inducing RR batsmen into false strokes.