(ESPNcricinfo)-Thrusting a young player into a leadership position can go either way. Burdened by captaincy, a player’s performance in their main role can temporarily slump, as was the case with Aiden Markram during South Africa’s ODI series against India earlier this year. Or the confidence of that position can buoy, and therefore boost, a player’s performance, like Shreyas Iyer in Delhi on Friday. He smashed an unbeaten 40-ball 93 to lead Delhi Daredevils to a resounding 55-run victory against Kolkata Knight Riders.
After a strong start, Iyer backed his hitting ability at No. 3. Primarily with a full face of the bat, he first accumulated before gradually increasing his tempo to the point where he took 28 runs off the final over, bowled by Shivam Mavi. He hit 10 sixes, four in the final over, powering Daredevils to 219, the biggest total of the season. Such was Iyer’s proficiency with using the straight bat that he scored 77 – 83% of his runs – in front of square.
Daredevils’ only worry in their defence was a 64-run sixth-wicket partnership, off 36 balls, between Andre Russell and Shubman Gill. Russell smashed 44 off 30 balls, 35 in the arc between long-off and midwicket, and his form and ability forced Iyer to use his best bowlers earlier than he would have liked. Eventually, Daredevils had sufficient confidence and runs to play with, easing to their second win of the season, in their seventh game.
A rare Powerplay blitz
With Gautam Gambhir dropped, Daredevils’ openers Prithvi Shaw and Colin Munro could adopt their own template. Before Friday, they had played just three games between them this season, which meant they carried less baggage than the rest of a floundering batting line-up.
The Powerplay produced 57 runs and ten boundaries. Daredevils’ average before this game was 48 runs and 6.66 boundaries. The start set the rest of the innings up. The openers added 59 in the first seven overs, Munro scoring 33 off 18 and Shaw going on to make 62 off 44. Between them, they faced a little over half the innings and scored 95.
Increasing the tempo
In Rishabh Pant and Glenn Maxwell, Daredevils arguably had more valuable scoring resources, but Iyer backed his own hitting ability and walked in after Shivam Mavi bowled Munro. With Iyer utilising a few deliveries to get set, Shaw increased his strike rate with a flurry of elegant boundaries off Mitchell Johnson: a wristy whip over midwicket, a lofted chip over extra-cover and a slapped six over square leg.
Shaw was eventually bowled hoicking across the line, much like his dismissal in Daredevils’ last game against Kings XI Punjab. The second-wicket pair had added 68 in seven overs. Iyer then took over, scoring 61 off the last 18 balls of his innings, hitting eight of them for six. He had a bit of help from the fielders, with both Robin Uthappa and Nitish Rana spilling potential catches over the boundary.
Beaten for pace
Knight Riders banked on their powerful top order in a steep chase, but they were undone by clever use of the short ball. First, Glenn Maxwell fired his in darts flat, preventing Lynn from getting underneath the length. He was bowled off the inside edge.
Robin Uthappa was hurried for pace, splicing a pull to midwicket off Trent Boult. Sunil Narine fell to a Boult bouncer for the second time this season, backing away and lobbing a catch to cover. Nitish Rana fended a brute of a bouncer back to Avesh Khan. At that point, Knight Riders were 46 for 4 in the sixth over, with the game all but done.