Brief Scores: Punjab Kings 195/4 in 20 overs (KL Rahul 61, Mayank Agarwal 69) lost to Delhi Capitals 198/4 in 18.2 overs (Prithvi Shaw 32, Shikhar Dhawan 92, Marcus Stoinis 27*; Jhye Richardson 2-41) by six wickets.
Delhi Capitals chased down a target of 196 with 10 balls to spare at the Wankhede Stadium against Punjab Kings in the second game on Sunday. It was their second win in three wins, as they were led brilliantly by left hander Shikhar Dhawan, who has been at his aggressive best since the last half of IPL 2020. His 92 that came in only 49 balls outshone Mayank Agarwal’s quick 50. KL Rahul along with Mayank stitched together 122 in only 12.4 overs, and it seemed like Punjab would get over 230 at one stage, however some brilliant bowling in the death and the inability of Rahul to pace his innings meant that the Punjab Kings could eventually manage 195, which proved to be 15-20 runs too less in the end.
Here are the talking points from the match:
Lukman Meriwala did not have the best day
Lukman Meriwala, who came into the team in place of Ajinkya Rahane, did not have the best outing on the day as his inability to control his line and lengths and his wayward bowling allowed the Punjab openers to get off to a flying start. The left arm seamer bowled wide and outside off stump in the power play overs, which Mayank Agarwal and K L Rahul latched on to. By the end of the third over, Punjab had raced away to 43 for no wicket, and the decision to not give the new ball to Avesh Khan, who had been successful in the first six overs in the last three games, did come as a surprise. With Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav in the wings, the move to employ an inexperienced fast bowler initially did come as a surprise. Rishabh Pant, the new skipper, has not been impressive with some of his decisions in the tournament thus far, and though Delhi won the game on Sunday, Pant the captain still needs to improve.
KL Rahul and his strike rate remains a worry
KL Rahul was one of the best cricketers in the shortest format of the game, but he has gone into a shell in the last two seasons. Though the Punjab skipper won the Orange Cap last season, his inability to score briskly was a huge worry, and the same questions are doing the rounds yet again after a bizarre knock against Delhi Capitals.
On a batting track that had plenty of runs on offer, Mayank Agarwal got off to an aggressive start but Rahul chose to play silently – and, questionably. At one stage, Mayank had raced away to 32 in only 15 balls, while Rahul was on 25 off 28. Though it was expected that the latter would pick up the pace eventually, Rahul was unable to convert it into a blazing knock and could score 61 in 51, which could be termed as a match-losing knock, especially as Punjab could not make the most of their start. Though Rahul got a few loose deliveries in the latter half of his innings, he did not give up his cautious approach and reached his 50 off 45 balls. With players like Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Shahrukh Khan and Deepak Hooda in the time, it was almost criminal for Rahul to hog up the deliveries and then not capitalize by the end. It can be argued that his knock affected his team more than it helped them, and the Delhi team would have taken the target of 196 after the start Mayank had given Punjab.
Why waste an overseas slot on Steve Smith when Rahane does a similar role?
Ajinkya Rahane has not had a good outing with Delhi Capitals thus far, and it was expected that the number three would be benched for the game against Punjab Kings. But in what was a puzzling move, Delhi got in Steve Smith in his place – a player who is very identical to Rahane. The Australian was expected to arrest a collapse, but that is a role that Rahane could have easily done as well. In the end, Smith could only score 9 off 12 balls, and all he did was hog up an overseas slot, with players like Shimron Hetmyer and Sam Billings in the wings.
The side could have played Rahane and got in Hetmyer over Tom Curran. The English cricketer can score some quick runs and is one of the biggest hitters of the ball but he has been given limited chances by the franchise thus far. The move thus made little sense, especially as Delhi seems a little too top heavy.
Dhawan is batting like a dream!
Dhawan, who does not have the best strike rate in the format, was pulled up by head coach Ricky Ponting last year for his strike rate. The left-hander, thus, worked to improve on his game and started taking more risks and the results are there to be seen. He became the first ever cricketer to smash successive tons last season, and has carried forward the form this year as well, with 85 and 92 thus far. After the game, Dhawan stated that he has been playing more shots and is taking more risks, something that KL Rahul can definitely learn.
Dhawan had recently been dropped from the T20I side against England, with Rahul taking the opener’s slot alongside Rohit Sharma, but if the duo continue in the same vein, there is no doubt that the left-hander will be the first choice in the XI for the T20 World Cup.