After holding their nerves to overcome a tough KKR challenge in Sharjah, Delhi grew from strength to strength today at Dubai, as Shreyas Iyer’s men handed a royal thrashing to Virat Kohli’s Bangalore. The show-stoppers of the day were Stoinis and Axar, both of whom had flawless nights.
Prithvi Shaw has cracked the T20 code
It’s taken him two and a half seasons, but Prithvi Shaw has finally cracked the T20 code. His 64 versus Super Kings reminded of his many knocks in the previous seasons, his 66 versus KKR was taken with a pinch of salt because Sharjah, but today, the youngster well and truly showed that he is closer to becoming the all-format player fans have been craving him to transform into. He was explosive in IPL 2018 and consistent in 2019, but this season, Shaw has combined both facets; his knock today was an indicator that he has struck the right balance. Up against some relatively good and tight bowling, the 20-year-old, like a man (read: kid) possessed, torched the RCB bowlers - through pure ball-striking. From sweeps to pulls to cover-drives, Shaw flaunted his repertoire in his 23-ball stay in the middle, proving that “the future is now”.
Navdeep Saini has a long way to go; a very, very long way
Make no mistake, Navdeep Saini is a gun bowler. He is gifted, he is talented, he is skillful and he can turn up the heat like no one else in the entire country. However, that said, he has a very long way to go as a bowler in T20 cricket. For, so far this season, he’s gotten progressively worse with every game and in action today was a bruised and beaten version of himself. Saini endured a nightmare of a day - belted from start to finish by every batsman - but it was his failure to put an effort to stop the haemorrhage that was worrying. He kept doing the same thing over and over again, seemed frustrated and defeated and made no effort to outsmart the batsman. This is not a first, mind you. He endured a similar torrid day versus Rajasthan and he was belted in normal time by Mumbai Indians, too. Come to think of it, he could have so easily disappeared in the Super Over, for he was dishing out length balls one after another. An alarming display, but one can only hope that his confidence gets restored sooner rather than later, for his own sake, if not his side’s.
Delhi are wasting Marcus Stoinis, there is no way he should be batting at 5
Calls for Marcus Stoinis to replace Shikhar Dhawan as an opener after his onslaught in the very first game seemed premature, but now, five games into the season, it does seem like a pretty enticing idea. Either way, opener or not, one thing’s certain - there is no way Stoinis should be batting bat as low as 5. It is blasphemous that, five games into the season, 62 balls is all Stoinis has faced. Walking out today under considerable pressure - DC 90/3 having lost the momentum Shaw generated - the 31-year-old muscled his way to his second fifty of the tournament, and boy he bullied the RCB bowlers left, right and center en route to it. With Stoinis having shone impeccably in both the proper opportunities he’s got, and with him looking in god-like touch with the bat, Delhi would be silly to waste him at No.5. With Iyer having misfired everywhere but Sharjah - where he was aided by DK’s captaincy - it would be preposterous on the skipper’s part to bat himself ahead of the all-rounder. If you think about it, the tweak is simple - Stoinis at 3, Iyer and Pant at 4 or 5 based on the situation, and Hetmyer at 6 as the finisher. Here’s hoping Iyer is shrewd and selfless enough to make the change.
Axar Patel has been the best cricketer in IPL 2020 - change my mind
The news of Amit Mishra’s injury was received with groans by a section of people, who were upset that it would mean Axar Patel returning to the side, but today, the left-armer showed why the leg-spinner’s absence will not make an iota of difference to Delhi’s campaign. Having bowled 14 overs in IPL 2020, Axar Patel has maintained an economy rate of 4.57. Yep, this is not a drill. How CRAZY is that? After producing spells of 1/14, 1/18 and 0/14 in his first three appearances of the season, the left-armer, today, bowled the most flawless spell of this edition yet - a 2/18 which was much, much more special and spectacular than what the figures actually suggest. After being struck by his nemesis, Virat Kohli, for a boundary on the very first ball of his spell, Axar, adapted to the conditions, changed his approach and bowled mind-bogglingly slow through the air for most of his spell. It was a ploy that worked like a charm as, apart from removing Finch, the 26-year-old also strangled Kohli and Moeen, who simply had no answers to the questions posed by the left-armer. So simple, yet so effective. Axar’s performances might have flown under the radar, but dare I say he’s been the best cricketer thus far in IPL 2020.