Lighting up Green Park
The final over of the game showed why experience matters when it comes to the crunch. Basil Thampi bowled a good yorker first up, but it clipped Shreyas Iyer’s pad and went to fine leg. The batsmen came back for an improbable second. Thampi stood close to the stumps but didn’t walk up to the stumps. An easy run out opportunity went abegging. Gujarat Lions captain Suresh Raina was livid. (Results | Fixtures | Points Table)
Thampi removed the excellent Iyer next ball with another yorker and in came Amit Mishra. Pre-empting a yorker, Mishra charged down the track and hit a four past mid-wicket. Then, he correctly anticipated a slower delivery and played a Dilscoop for another four. Delhi Daredevils were over the line.
Mishra’s game reading was an eye-opener for young Thampi, but the senior pro wasn’t the man of the moment. Iyer outshone everyone at Green Park on Wednesday with his highest T20 score that snatched victory for Delhi from the jaws of defeat.
Delhi have a fine set of youngsters – Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson the other night and now Iyer. Just that you have to be patient enough with youngsters as it takes time for them to achieve consistency.
Delhi’s season had become a write-off four days ago, when they slumped to 66 all out, chasing 213 for victory against Mumbai Indians. Their game against Gujarat Lions today was only of academic interest. Iyer’s 57-ball 96 gave Delhi something to celebrate about even though the season is over for them.
Carlos Brathwaite departed in the 14th over and for Delhi, that sinking feeling was back again. The equation stood at 75 runs off 36 balls after 14. Iyer didn’t throw in the towel. He targeted Pradeep Sangwan instead and took four fours off his over. Dhawal Kulkarni had been caressed for three successive boundaries next over and the equation became 44 off 24. Pat Cummins – he played a little gem at No. 8 – got into the act and hit James Faulkner for a huge six and then, it was over to Iyer again. A six and a four followed and Delhi suddenly had victory in sight – 23 required off the last three overs.
Two tight overs put the contest back on an even keel before Mishra out-thought Thampi in the final over. But it remained Iyer’s night, who was correctness personified for the most part of his fascinating innings. But as he said post match, he would have been happier to “finish the game”.
Finch-Karthik combo sizzle
Earlier, Gujarat’s innings centred around a 92-run fourth wicket partnership between Dinesh Karthik and Aaron Finch after they lost Dwayne Smith, Suresh Raina and Ishan Kishan inside seven overs.
Finch in all likelihood will open for Australia in the upcoming Champions Trophy but he has played as a middle-order batsman for Gujarat in this IPL and showed sparks, although consistency has had been a problem. Tonight, he was measured in his approach, without ever allowing the opposition bowlers to dictate terms.
He waited for loose deliveries to start with. When Brathwaite strayed down the leg side, Finch flicked it to the backward square leg boundary. Mishra came and bowled a half-tracker and was promptly dispatched over the deep mid-wicket fence. The leggie overcorrected his length and was hammered for another six over long-off.
But the sensible side of Finch’s batting had been on display next over, when Brathwaite bowled tight and the Aussie was happy to rotate the strike.
Karthik, along with Raina, has been Gujarat batting’s tenuous link to consistency this term. Once again, he played a very good innings when the chips were down. The best part of his batting was the way he maintained a healthy strike-rate without playing too many big shots. He clipped Mishra to the fine leg boundary and then concentrated on taking singles and doubles before Corey Anderson allowed him to free his arms and hit a length ball through extra cover. The six off Mohammed Shami was gorgeous but Karthik’s 28-ball 40 was basically about keeping the fielders busy and not allowing the bowlers to settle in a particular line or length.
Karthik got out in the first ball of the 17th over and at 148/4 Gujarat looked to heading towards a total in the range of 180. But Finch laid into Brathwaite on the heels of Karthik’s departure and secured a 16-run over with two fours and a six. And when he eventually perished for a 39-ball 69, Gujarat seemed to have taken the game away from the opposition.
Iyer’s brilliance turned the tables.