Despite Mayank Agarwal’s 36-ball 61 and Shahrukh Khan’s 5-ball 15, Punjab could only get to a total of 195, on a peach of a batting track. In the second innings, Delhi led by Shikhar Dhawan’s 92 off 49 deliveries made a light work of the run-chase, as they got to the total in just the 19th over.
Where the Punjab Kings lost the game
Let’s be honest, KL Rahul lost the game for Punjab Kings, even before the first innings ended or the second innings started, with his ‘masterful’ batting display. On such a batting surface where runs were on offer at every corner, Rahul could only score 51-ball 61, putting Punjab in a state of bother, at 141/2 in 15.2 overs after Mayank scored a 36-ball 69.
Lukman Meriwala sets the tempo for Punjab Kings
Very seldom do bowlers set the tempo for the opposition but on Sunday, against Punjab Kings, Delhi’s Lukman Meriwala really set the tempo for the opposition, with his wayward bowling. It wasn’t about a nervy start but about the plans in play for the opposition, with the left-arm seamer bowling right to the strength of the opposition for most parts of the first two overs. Wide and outside the off-stump, Meriwala handed a gift wrapped in gold to the Punjab Kings openers - Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul - after their struggling in the last game. Ball after ball, it was one freebie after another and by the time his second over ended, Punjab were already 43/0. Now the real question, why change something that was successful? In Delhi’s first two games - the influence of Avesh Khan - was immense but the decision to take away the new ball from him? Baffling and something that could threaten to take the game away from Delhi Capitals. Not the first time, Delhi has come out with tactics really confusing in this year’s tournament and won’t be the last time, either.
KL Rahul’s ‘strike’ approach continues to be astonishing
It was a batting track, there were runs on offer at every nook and corner in Mumbai but KL Rahul chose to stay in the most silent of ones, with a rather questionable approach to the innings. While Mayank Agarwal was slaying it across the ground with a 15-ball 32, Rahul was 25 off 28. Probably a slow starter but will pick up the pace later? No, Rahul has had this sort of aura built around him for scoring the runs but if you check at what pace it has come, it has rather hindered the team’s total, especially on such a good batting surface. While Lalit Yadav might have seemingly given Rahul a license to go for the shots, the Punjab skipper continued to take the worst route, reaching his 50 off just 45 deliveries, in what would have been a good ODI half-century. But on a side, where there was Deepak Hooda, Shahrukh Khan and Nicholas Pooran, it was criminal for Rahul to farm the strike and then get out at the start of the death overs. He exited with a 51-ball 61 but the runs cost his side more than they helped them, which makes Rahul’s approach come under the scanner, yet again. Where’s the change, Wasim Jaffer, that you promised Rahul would take this season?
As puzzling as it looks and sounds, Delhi Capitals indeed utilized one of their foreign spots on Steve Smith, who was earmarked for arresting any kind of collapse in the Delhi middle-order. But that’s where things get spicy, Smith’s form last season was one of the worst in the IPL and today, he scored a 12-ball 9, chasing 196. Now if that’s not astonishing, they had Ajinkya Rahane, who dons a similar role with the bat, which makes it all even more confusing. Let’s put things into perspective - Delhi had Sam Billings and Shimron Hetmyer to choose from - yet they thought that Smith was a great option. Now is where it would hurt the franchise, with Lalit Yadav as their second spin-bowling option, Delhi isn’t going to pick up wickets in the middle-overs, which puts all kinds of pressure on the openers. Now hear me out, when Delhi, who have Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw at the top of the order playing most of the deliveries, having a player like Sam Billings, who can not only play as a finisher but also can arrest a collapse make more sense? Either way, Smith over Rahane, Smith over Billings or even Smith over Hetmyer, makes little sense, DC!
Fight me out, Ravichandran Ashwin has been an ordinary bowler thus far in the season, even though he hasn’t conceded too many in the second game. But does Delhi need a bowler to take care of their economy rate at the Wankhede? No, they need wicket-takers, especially with them already having the likes of Chris Woakes and Avesh Khan to take care of the economy rate. However, when it comes to wicket-takers, they really have just the one - in the form of Kagiso Rabada - which spells trouble. Now the team, against Punjab Kings, Amit Mishra has picked up 22 wickets over Ashwin’s 19. Forget that, this season, against Chennai Super Kings in their IPL opener, Amit Mishra looked far more threatening than Ashwin. If indeed they picked Ashwin to bowl economically, they had Lalit Yadav, who could do that role but as things really stand, Delhi need a wicket-taker, in the absence of Anrich Nortje, Mishra, who has picked up 166 wickets in the IPL is probably a good option!
MVP - Shikhar Dhawan
When Shikhar Dhawan plays a sweep, it goes to the boundary, there is no stopping it. Similarly, when Dhawan is in form, you just pray to the Lord to give you mercy because Dhawan is going to give none. Especially after watching KL Rahul play that horribly slow innings, the left-hander wasn’t going to let it go, with a monster of a knock, scoring 92 off 49 deliveries.
Match Frenzy O Meter - Bat-a-thon
When Mayank Agarwal was there at the crease, the Wankhede looked like the ‘heaven’ for batsmen, with his blistering start for Punjab Kings. The pitch had nearly no support to the pacers, none whatsoever to the spinners and despite that, Punjab could not make the fullest use of the conditions, with 195. Their approach was puzzling. However, in the second innings, Delhi made the match look more interesting, with Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan putting on a show. Indeed, it was a bat-a-thon.