Brief Scores: Punjab Kings 166/6 in 20 overs (Mayank Agarwal 99*; Kagiso Rabada 3-36) lost to Delhi Capitals 167/3 in 17.4 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 69*) by 7 wickets
Without KL Rahul, who will undergo operation for acute appendicitis, Punjab Kings was led brilliantly by their stand-in skipper Mayabk Agarwal, who was the lone warrior in the game with the bat for the side. In a total of 166, the opener posted an unbeaten 99 as he carried his bat through an innings. Regular fall of wickets did not help Punjab, however, as they finished well below par of a challenging total. In reply, the Delhi Capitals were led by their in-form openers yet again, with Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan stitching together 63 in just 37 balls for the first wicket. Delhi, after eight games, are on top of the table with 12 points and just need another victory to seal their playoffs berth.
Here are the talking points from the match between the Punjab Kings and Delhi Capitals.
The powerplay run scoring has been impressive from Delhi Capitals
One of the biggest reasons for Delhi’s success in this Indian Premier League has been their aggressive batting from the openers, especially in the powerplay overs. This season, the Delhi Capitals have four of the five highest scores in the first six overs, which is evidence of the mindset that the openers are going in with. Against Punjab Kings, the side scored 63 in the powerplay overs, by which the rival team were already out of the game. What is refreshing is that the two openers – Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan – both struggled last year, and have made a big transformation for the edition this season.
While Shaw had been criticized for his technique and was dropped from the Indian Test team after just a game in Australia, Dhawan’s strike rate at the top has always been a bone of contention. Shaw worked hard on his game, along with Pravin Ambre, and returned as a rejuvenated batsman in the Vijay Hazare Trophy that preceded the IPL. This year, Shaw has scored 308 runs in eight games at a stunning strike rate of over 166. The youngster, in a bid to return to the Indian set-up, could have ignored his strike rate and focused on his technique and staying long at the crease instead, but his mindset where the risks have not been removed needs applause.
Dhawan, who is not the biggest striker of the ball, was pulled up by head coach Ricky Ponting last season, for his slow-paced batting, following which he has incorporated more risks in his game. According to the batter himself, he is not afraid to get out while playing his strokes, and the results are there to be seen. Dhawan, currently, has 380 runs with a strike rate of 134.27 and three fifties thus far.
Ishant Sharma and Avesh Khan have reduced Delhi’s woes
Last season, Delhi Capitals played both Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada, which meant that they would often be a batsman short. They started the season this year with Chris Woakes and Tom Curran bowling in tandem with Avesh Khan included as the third pacer. While the Indian raised his game and impressed with his yorkers, the side’s batting remained vulnerable, which meant that Ajinkya Rahane walked into the side. The batsman was unable to impress, and was replaced by Steven Smith soon after. With Kagiso Rabada returning, the option was between playing Chris Woakes or Shimron Hetmyer, and they opted for the latter with Ishant Sharma being given a chance.
The Indian pacer has been on the mark in the last three games, with his out swingers and in swingers and his variations in pace. He has a dot ball percentage of 45.8 in the powerplay overs with an economy rate of just 6. With Avesh Khan constantly picking up wickets, Ishant is primarily in the team to stall the run flow in the initial overs. His success has meant that Delhi have played with Hetmyer, who almost took his team over the line against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Mayank Agarwal plays a captain’s knock for Punjab
Though Punjab Kings have not had the best outing in the Indian Premier League in the last few seasons, one thing has remained constant – the form of their skipper. KL Rahul was the Orange Cap winner last year (despite Punjab not making the playoffs), and was leading the charts ahead of the game this year as well. However, acute appendicitis meant that Rahul, who scored a fine ninety in the last game, did not take the field against Delhi Capitals. New skipper, no problems for Punjab Kings.
Mayabk Agarwal, the stand in captain, was at his brilliant best as he smashed an unbeaten 99 to single handedly take his team to a fighting total of 166. He was dropped on 58 and narrowly missed being run out when he and Deepak Hooda found themselves at the same end, but there was no denying that he played a stunning knock on a day when Jos Buttler produced a sizzling hundred earlier against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
While the other Punjab Kings batters were struggling to score runs, Mayank was unfazed. He got going with a brilliant four off Avesh Khan in the powerplay overs and anchored the innings to perfection. He got his first fifty runs in 37 balls and then raced away to the next 49 runs in just 21 deliveries. He counter attacked and ensured that his team reached a total that could pose a challenge. However, his efforts went in vain. He was rightly awarded the Player of the Match, though.