Synopsis: Karun Nair wins it for Delhi Daredevils after Carlos Brathwaite changes the dynamic with his fielding and bowling. Sunrisers Hyderabad captain David Warner’s seventh fifty goes in vain
Nair wins it
The game hung in the balance as the second strategic time-out was called during Delhi’s chase. 103/2 after 14 overs and the ‘home’ team needed 56 off 36 balls to get over the line and stay afloat. Third ball after the break, and Karun Nair mis-timed a pull off Barinder Sran. Warner charged in from long-on but dropped the catch, a sitter by his very lofty standards. It eventually proved to be very costly.
Nair celebrated his luck with a four off Mustafizur Rahman followed by two sixes against Sran. The experienced JP Duminy departed and Brathwaite followed suit, in the second ball of the 19th over. Sixteen required off 10 and Hyderabad seemed to be in the ascendency. Rahman completed the over without giving away a boundary, making things very difficult for the opponents.
With 11 runs to defend, Bhuvneshwar Kumar came to bowl the final over, conceding only five runs in the first four balls. Six off two now, and Kumar hurled a back of a length delivery. Nair slapped it past mid-off for four. Two off one, and Kumar once again tried to hurry Nair for pace. The young man stood and delivered, pulling it past the wide mid-on for another boundary. Delhi won by six wickets to stay afloat. Nair remained unbeaten on 83 off 59 balls. “My best IPL knock,” the Man of the Match said.
The best part of his innings was the way he paced it. Quinton de Kock’s early departure meant he had to hold one end up without letting the asking rate climb too steeply. Nair targeted Sran in Powerplay before concentrating on singles and twos, and picking the loose deliveries for big hits. It has been a tremendous effort, mature beyond his years and experience. His 73-run second-wicket partnership with Rishabh Pant laid the foundation of this victory.
Brathwaite changes dynamic
“(Chris) Morris has a bit of a niggle, so Carlos comes in,” Zaheer Khan said at the toss. The South African has been Delhi’s standout performer this term and it was a big blow. Delhi had been playing a must-win game and someone had to stand up to fill the void. Brathwaite responded to the challenge.
Warner’s onslaught upfront gave Hyderabad a very good start. They were 42/0 after five overs, when the West Indian came in to bowl. He almost immediately accounted for Shikhar Dhawan with a scintillating piece of fielding. The opener pushed a length ball towards mid-on and thought it was out of Brathwaite’s reach. But the latter dived full-length to his left on his follow through, turned around, nailed a direct hit at the striker’s end to catch the batsman short of his ground. Amit Mishra effected another run out, once again a direct hit, in the next over to dismiss Deepak Hooda and suddenly Delhi were back in the game.
Brathwaite ensured they didn’t lose the initiative. He cleaned up Yuvraj Singh with an angled delivery with the batsman dragging it back on to the stumps and as the final overs approached, the big seam-bowling allrounder forced a top edge from the dangerous Warner to ensure Hyderabad’s total remained within reach. It was a short delivery outside the off stump, but Warner was done in by the extra bounce. The skier went straight to Mishra at third man. Brathwaite was not finished yet. He reverse-cupped to take Eoin Morgan at long-on in the 18th over, bowled by Coulter-Nile, to negate any late flurry. Morgan had the ability to take the game away from the opposition. He had been leading a charmed life — Pant dropped him on four — as well.
Brathwaite revels under pressure, as his match-winning charge in the World T20 final would attest. Here also, he produced an excellent performance, when his team was under the cosh. He should have always been an automatic pick in this format but incredibly this was only his seventh game in this IPL. Delhi never played the same XI in successive matches and Brathwaite had to wait a fortnight to take the field after playing against Kings XI Punjab on May 7. They must have forgotten the name!
Half-century in vain
Earlier, Zaheer gave a swing bowling masterclass in the first over, varying his line and length for Warner and Dhawan. A couple of fours off Jayant Yadav in the next over, however, got the Hyderabad captain running. Coulter-Nile replaced the off-spinner and Warner welcomed him with a stinging square cut past point for a boundary before hitting him over the in-field for another four. Yadav came from the other end but couldn’t stem a marauding Warner. The left-hander had been muscling his way through.
He raced to his half-century in 40 balls before swinging Brathwaite over long-on for his first six. By then, Hyderabad had lost three wickets and there was a bit of a momentum shift. But the skipper marched on before getting out on 73 off 56 balls. It was his seventh half-ton of the season that took his tournament aggregate to 640 runs in 13 matches. All his teammates combined have scored only five half-centuries between them.