IPL 2022: DC defeats PKBS by 9 wickets

The challenge for Delhi Capitals after Punjab Kings were dismissed for 115 runs was to improve their net run rate. They cruised to victory in 10.3 overs, winning by nine wickets, accumulating six points in as many games, and raising their net run rate to +0.942. In the midst of the Covid scare, such a resounding victory would bring some joy to the camp.

Punjab’s bowlers had very little to work with. On a surface where three DC spinners — Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, and Lalit Yadav – accounted for six scalps and conceded 45 runs, their captain Mayank Agarwal lost a trick by not bringing Rahul Chahar into the attack early. Chahar entered the fray in the seventh over, after Prithvi Shaw and David Warner had already secured the victory. Shaw was dismissed in his first over by the leg-spinner, but the batsman had already sped to a 20-ball 41. Warner maintained his unblemished record with a score of 60 off 30 balls. “I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to play the game,” the left-hander said afterward.

The game wasn’t easy for DC, as it was played against the backdrop of a Covid epidemic in their camp. It’s difficult to play cricket when one of your teammates is fighting the illness in a hospital and another has a positive test result on matchday. DC’s players and coaching staff have not been allowed to train since their last game against Royal Challengers Bangalore, and they came into this match from room isolation.

In such situations, leadership is crucial, and the team’s youthful captain Rishabh Pant had the support of head coach Ricky Ponting. Warner, too, took a step ahead. Pant was having what appeared to be an on-field leadership meeting with the two Aussies before the start of the match at Brabourne Stadium.

DC also came into this game looking for stability after two losses in their previous three games. Their bowlers raised their hands to be counted.

The pitch was a little slower than usual. Shikhar Dhawan’s soft dismissal gave DC an opportunity because the ball wasn’t quite coming on to the bat. The left-hander attempted to paddle a Lalit Yadav delivery down leg, but it was nicked by Pant behind the stumps.

Agarwal got off to a terrific start, but played away from his body and sliced a Mustafizur Rahman delivery on to the stumps. Axar and Kuldeep took over after that.

On a pitch like this, attacking Axar indiscriminately is a hazardous business. Liam Livingstone’s charge was well-planned, allowing the left-arm spinner to outmanoeuvre the batsman. Pant had an easy stumping when Axar dragged his length back.
Kuldeep’s first over was a bit of a letdown, with Jitesh Sharma scoring a couple of fours. But the chinaman bowler began to bowl faster – Pant’s instruction from behind the stumps was ‘zorse dalo’ – and his three-wicket haul of Kagiso Rabada and Nathan Ellis stopped Punjab’s lower-order revival.

With the exception of Shardul Thakur, no DC bowler averaged more than seven runs per over. Axar bowled really well, returning 2/10 from four overs. From two overs, Lalit Yadav took 2/11. Kuldeep (2/24) and Khaleel (2/21) also made significant contributions to their team’s success. The bowlers worked together to make it a stroll in the park for DC. “The bowlers did a fantastic job to make ours easier,” said Warner.

Punjab’s night of misery

One of the reasons for Punjab’s inconsistency – four losses in seven games – is that their middle order, with the exception of Livingstone, isn’t contributing much.

Bairstow hasn’t yet found his stride, Shahrukh hasn’t made an impression, and Sharma’s cameos haven’t yielded significant results.

Agarwal’s return to the fold after recuperating from a toe injury was a positive for Punjab. But he got out after a good start, Dhawan and Livingstone were easily dispatched, and the remainder didn’t put up much of a fight.

Bairstow was expected to bat deep, but he smacked a length ball straight to deep fine leg. Punjab needed a partner at 54/4. For the next eighteen overs, Sharma and Shahrukh needed to play low-risk cricket. The former bowled several excellent shots, but got greedy and went across the stumps to sweep an Axar delivery. The situation necessitated a safer technique, a push down the earth, so the shot selection was incorrect. Sharma also miscalculated the ball’s speed. He’d learn from his blunders.

However, Punjab’s middle-order batting needs to improve for the time being. Punjab’s night of misery was summed up by their innings, which featured only 15 fours and a six.