It was another close finish in the Indian T20 League and once again Team Delhi found themselves at the wrong end of it. After being put into bat first against Chennai in Qualifier 1, Prithvi Shaw’s 60 got them off to a solid start but they lost wickets regularly. Rishabh Pant’s half-century and Shimron Hetmyer’s 37 helped Delhi get to 172.
In reply, Team Chennai lost an early wicket but Robin Uthappa and Ruturaj Gaikwad got them back on track as both batters notched up half-centuries. Just when it looked like the total may just get beyond Chennai’s reach, skipper MS Dhoni walked out and smashed 18 off six deliveries to send Chennai into their ninth final in the history of this Indian T20 League.
Here are the talking points from the game.
Prithvi Shaw lays the foundation
It was a one-man show for Team Delhi in the first 10 overs of their batting innings. Prithvi Shaw single-handedly kept the scoreboard ticking as wickets fell around him. However, it didn’t start off the best way possible for him.
The 21-year-old opener was a touch lucky as a couple of top-edges and inside-edges yielded boundaries and that got him going. But once he found the tempo and his flow, there was no stopping him. The boundaries kept flowing. He got four fours in an over against his nemesis Deepak Chahar. The dismissal of Shikhar Dhawan didn’t affect him either as he tonked Shardul Thakur for a couple of sixes as Delhi raced away to 50/1 in five overs.
At that stage, Shaw had scored 42 off 18 deliveries. He did slow down a touch after the powerplay but still found the gaps and boundaries regularly before he holed out against Ravindra Jadeja. Shaw was dismissed for 60 off 34 balls and at that time, Delhi’s score was 80 i.e. Shaw had got 75% of the runs.
Rishabh Pant, Shimron Hetmyer dig Team Delhi out of trouble
At 80/4 in the 11th over, Delhi were in a spot of bother. But the left-handed duo of Rishabh Pant and Shimron Hetmyer came to the rescue. Both batters took some time and rotated strike for a few overs before blasting away. It was Hetmyer who went first as he got a six and a four in consecutive overs to pull some momentum back before Pant joined the party as well.
Delhi scored 58 runs in the last five overs as Pant and Hetmyer pushed the score beyond 170. The pair shared an 83-run stand for the fifth wicket. Hetmyer was out on 37 while the Delhi skipper notched up his half-century. He remained unbeaten on 51 off 35 balls which helped Delhi get to 172 in their 20 overs.
Ruturaj Gaikwad, Robin Uthappa keep Team Chennai on track while chasing 173
Team Chennai’s strength has been their opening partnership this season, especially in the UAE leg. However, it wasn’t to be in this game as an in-form Faf du Plessis was knocked over in the first over by Anrich Nortje. The three-time champions haven’t fared particularly well when they’ve lost an early wicket.
But Ruturaj Gaikwad and Robin Uthappa turned the tide. Delhi’s bowling attack has been one of the best in this competition and be it the spinners or the fast bowlers, they have delivered more often than not. But it didn’t deter Gaikwad or Uthappa. They took the attack to the Delhi bowlers in the powerplay and kept finding the fence regularly as Chennai blazed away to 59/1 at the end of the powerplay.
It was Uthappa who was the aggressor as he kept finding the boundaries and didn’t allow the asking rate to get out of hand. With 92 required off the last 10 overs, Gaikwad turned the switch as well and he went out on the attack as he launched Axar Patel for a four and a six to up the ante.
Uthappa and Gaikwad added 110 runs for the second wicket and it came in 77 deliveries. The former got 63 before he holed out in the 14th over. He was dismissed for a well-compiled 63 and his innings was the one that kept Chennai in the hunt right from the start.
Tom Curran’s double-wicket over and Ambati Rayudu’s runout brings Delhi back into the contest
Tom Curran was a questionable selection in this game. The England pacer hadn’t featured in a single game in this second half and he came in for a batting all-rounder Ripal Patel who hadn’t really done badly with the ball. Delhi went in with the risk of playing only six batters but it didn’t affect them too much as Curran delivered with the ball.
He bowled a couple of decent and economical overs as he conceded just 10 runs. He was brought back for his third in the 14th over of the innings and that over brought Delhi back into the contest. He foxed Uthappa with a slower one on the third ball of the over to break the 110-run stand. He then dismissed Shardul Thakur who was promoted up the order as a pinch-hitter. In the 15th over, Ambati Rayudu was runout as well as Chennai lost three wickets for six runs in the space of seven deliveries.
Chennai slipped from 113/1 to 119/4. At the end of the 15th over, they still needed 52 runs in 30 deliveries and the asking rate kept going up.
MS Dhoni applies the finishing touches
After that stand between Gaikwad and Uthappa, Chennai lost the plot and were just about hanging in there. Gaikwad and Moeen Ali were finding the odd boundary but the required run rate had crept up to nearly 12 with only three overs to go. Gaikwad got a couple of boundaries in the 18th over to keep up with the rate but he holed out to deep mid-wicket on the first ball of the 19th over.
With 24 needed off 11 deliveries, MS Dhoni walked out to the crease. It was a huge call. Ravindra Jadeja had been batting really well throughout the tournament and he had taken Chennai over the line from a similar situation against Kolkata in an earlier game. Besides, Dhoni’s form wasn’t the best either.
The Chennai captain had scores of 3 (5), 11 (9)*, 1 (4), 14 (11)*, 18 (27) and 12 (15) in the games that he had batted in this UAE leg. But out he came and finished the game in typical Dhoni style. He smashed his second ball for a huge six over mid-wicket as Avesh Khan banged the ball in short.
With 13 required off the final over, Chennai lost Moeen Ali but Dhoni got back on strike. He struck a boundary over cover to ease the nerves before a bit of fortune went his way. An inside-edge raced away to the boundary to reduce the equation to five runs off three balls. A wide from Curran helped before Dhoni pulled one to the boundary and sealed the deal for Chennai with a cool, calm and composed six-ball 18.