Two teams on top of the table – Delhi and Chennai – faced off each other in match 50 of the Indian T20 League 2021. After winning the toss, Delhi captain Rishabh Pant elected to bowl first and his side restricted Chennai to 136 for 5 in 20 overs. And while that looked like an easily chaseable total, Delhi couldn’t chase it down until the second third last ball of their innings. With a three-wicket win, Delhi are now right at the top of the points table. Let’s look at the major talking points from the game.
MS Dhoni’s struggle with the bat continues
The Chennai captain wasted 27 balls to score 18 runs, with Ambati Rayudu doing most of the work from the other end. Dhoni faced as many as 10 dot balls and could not hit any boundaries during his stay on the crease. This the first time in 12 years that the former India captain has failed to hit a boundary in an innings of at least 25 balls in the Indian T20 League. The last time Dhoni failed to find a boundary in 25 balls was against Team Bangalore way back in 2009 in Johannesburg.
Although Rayudu and Dhoni put on a 70-run stand for the fifth wicket, the partnership saw a total of 23 dot balls and most of the run-scoring was done by Rayudu. Eventually, the three-time trophy winning captain was dismissed in the first ball of the 20th over by an in-form Avesh Khan when he attempted a big hit but got an inside edge. This is the second time this season that Khan has sent back Dhoni.
Dhoni scored 200 runs in 14 matches last season at an average and strike rate of 25.00 and 116.27. And the performances have been even worse this season, with him averaging 14.00 in 13 matches so far. Whether this will be Dhoni’s last IPL is not known, but on his day, he can still spring up a surprise and play a match-winning knock.
Ambati Rayudu comes to Chennai’s rescue
After the top order failed, Ambati Rayudu came to the rescue of the team – something that he has done many times while playing both for Mumbai and Chennai. The former India batsman scored an unbeaten 55 of 43 balls that was laced with five fours and two sixes. Rayudu, who walked in to the bat when his side had scored only 39 runs and lost four wickets, batted calmly despite wickets falling at the other end. Eventually, Rayudu and Dhoni stitched an important 70-run stand for the fifth wicket.
In an Indian T20 League career spanning across 11 years, Rayudu has an average of almost 30 and has also scored a century and 21 fifties. And yet, the batsman’s performance is often eclipsed by the performance of his teammates and he still remains a highly underrated player.
Axar Patel’s night with the ball
Axar Patel was Delhi’s best performer with the ball against Chennai, picking up two wickets in his four overs while conceding only 18 runs. He first removed an in-form Faf du Plessis in the second over, before cleaning up Moeen Ali in the seventh over. Patel has now entered the list of this season’s highest wicket-takers with 14 wickets in nine games at an economy rate of only 6.05. His best came against Mumbai in the previous game, where he picked up three wickets for 21 runs in four overs. With all those performances, Patel has explained why the national selectors have picked him for the upcoming T20 World Cup scheduled to begin later this month in UAE and Oman.
Dhawan top scores for Delhi
On a tricky surface to bat on, the experienced Shikhar Dhawan top scored for Delhi with a 39 off 35 balls laced with three fours and two sixes. The southpaw has now crossed 500 runs this season and is the third highest run scorer with 501 runs in 13 innings at an average of almost 42. Dhawan’s experience and form will be one of the biggest assets for Delhi as they set out on their playoffs journey.
Shimron Hetmyer’s late assault
After wickets kept falling at quick intervals, Shimron Hetmyer’s quickfire knock took Delhi over the line. Coming in at no. 6, Hetmyer scored an unbeaten 28 off 18 balls, hitting two fours and a six.
Ripal Patel makes his debut
Ripal is an explosive middle-order batsman and a right arm medium pacer from Gujarat. The youngster has an average and strike rate of 31.83 and 189.10, which will make him a batsman to look out for this season. On debut, however, Patel managed only 18 runs off 20 balls before being sent back by Deepak Chahar. The Delhi franchise signed Ripal for Rs 20 lakhs at the auctions.