Delhi Daredevils bounced back from the ignominy of falling to their lowest total in IPL history by dominating their chase in a six-wicket win against Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Feroz Shah Kotla.
Delhi’s stand-in captain, Karun Nair, had put Sunrisers in on the trust that the wicket would stay true throughout the course of the game. The visitors responded by putting up 66 in the Powerplay with the loss of David Warner for 30. Daredevils did well to pull things back in the middle overs, removing Shikhar Dhawan (28) and Kane Williamson (24) in quick succession after strangling them through effective spin bowling, but regular lapses in the field allowed Sunrisers a way back in. Yuvraj Singh (70* off 44), in particular, made use of a dropped catch and dominated an unbroken 93-run stand for the fourth wicket with Moises Henriques that lifted Sunrisers to 185 for 3.
Daredevils began briskly, with Sanju Samson’s 19-ball 24 and Karun Nair’s 20-ball 39 setting the pace early on. The momentum was picked up by the rest of the top-order, who produced a chain of quick cameos before allrounders Corey Anderson (41* off 24) and Chris Morris (15* off 7) put on an unbroken 41 off 19 balls to take them past the target with five balls to spare.
Jayant Yadav and the opening stand
Against a top four including three left-hand batsmen, Daredevils have picked Jayant compulsively. In fact, the offspinner’s only game of the season before tonight was the away fixture against Sunrisers on April 19. He had opened the bowling in that game.
He did it tonight as well, and, on first glance, seemed to have caught Warner lbw off the first ball. The left-hander, who had struck a thunderous 126 against Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday, went for the sweep first ball against an overpitched delivery drifting into him. HawkEye showed his survival was only marginal.
That was the only sign of their offspin punt working against the openers. Warner and Dhawan played him out respectfully – apart from a Warner switch-hit swept over the backward point boundary.
Against Kagiso Rabada and Chris Morris, they were more fluid, taking the pacers for a combined five fours and a six before Warner welcomed Mohammed Shami with a boundary at the start of the sixth over. That whip over midwicket brought up the fifth opening stand of fifty or more for Sunrisers this season. It was to end the very next ball, however, with Shami sliding a steaming yorker under Warner’s drive to take his off stump.
Kotla slows down
Sunrisers were 66 for 1 at the end of the Powerplay. Kane Williamson, the beneficiary of an overthrow boundary in the previous over, played four dot ball balls in the next against Morris, two of which were slower deliveries. It was a precursor to the home team’s plan for the middle overs. Jayant and Amit Mishra bowled four overs in tandem, which set the tone for Daredevils’ most fruitful phase in the field. Mishra depended heavily on his new-found offbreak against the left-handers, but it was his googly that met the top edge on Dhawan’s attempted sweep. His stock ball turned appreciably too.
Jayant had cramped Williamson to the extent that the Sunrisers No. 3, aside from a six off a quicker delivery, had only managed three singles off seven deliveries against him. When Shami came back in the 12th over, his dot-ball ratio had climbed to 50%. That induced a skied hook straight to deep square leg. The six overs after the Powerplay had fetched Sunrisers only 27 runs for the loss of two wickets.
Yuvraj cashes in
There were at least four instances of Daredevils giving away extra runs in the field. The bizzare one involved Rishabh Pant, who tried to flick the ball back to the bowler from inside the square. It slipped out of his grasp and ended up going wide of midwicket for a single. The painful one came at – and out of – the hands of Samson. It was at deep square leg.
Yuvraj, coming into the game with 24 runs in his last four innings, lofted a Chris Morris bouncer to Samson. The youngster, who had been involved in that infamous mix-up with Mishra against KKR last week, wasn’t under any such pressure this time – the nearest fielder was a number of yards to his left. It was the kind that is usually described as ‘straight down the throat’ of whoever takes it. As it turned out, this went straight to the floor.
However different those two missed chances were, the outcome was in the same vein. It was Robin Uthappa who piled on the misery that day, and it was Yuvraj tonight. Yuvraj, on 29 off 26 at that point, made 41 off his next 15. His unbeaten 70 propelled Sunrisers to 185 for 3.
Bhuvi returns the favour, Nair finds his mojo
Another man who hasn’t found runs recently is Karun Nair. The Daredevils’ stand-in skipper opened the innings today and utilised the boundary access allowed by fielding restrictions to hit himself into form. Like Yuvraj, Nair too was helped along by ordinary fielding. While on 20, he toe-ended a scoop to Bhuvneshwar Kumar at short fine. He was late in getting his hands up and only parried it to give himself a chase. Nair made 15 off his next four balls, primarily through shots on the up or ramps behind the wicket while the ball still came on.
His knock took Daredevils to 62 in the Powerplay after they lost Samson. Shortly after, he offered another catch to Bhuvneshwar. This was a full-blooded drive that went flat to him at long-off; he held on this time, but the momentum had been conceded.
Finish it with power
Daredevils had two spinners to tie Sunrisers down on a slow track; Sunrisers had dropped their second spinner, Bipul Sharma, in favour of Deepak Hooda who didn’t end up batting. This proved to be the difference in the middle overs as Daredevils’ young top order capitalised on Moises Henriques’ medium-pace, taking the allrounder for 36 off his 2.1 overs. The promotion of Rishabh Pant to No. 3 also played its part, with Warner reluctant to expose his only other spin option, Yuvraj, against him. It didn’t end up making much of a difference. Yuvraj, coming in immediately after Pant had been cleaned up by Mohammed Siraj’s yorker, went for 16 in his only over. It allowed Daredevils the luxury of playing Rashid Khan out at a run a ball without losing a wicket to him. It was only his second wicketless game – the previous one was also against Daredevils.
One might have expected to see Angelo Mathews – brought into to bolster the middle-order – come in at No. 5, or even No. 6 as Daredevils lost wicket within a comfortable distance of the target. In the end, Corey Anderson and Morris filled up those slots, a clear signal that Daredevils didn’t just want to win, but wanted to do it comprehensively. (ESPNCricinfo)
Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo