With a 46-run victory over Rajasthan Royals, Delhi Capitals are reinforcing their title-chasing credentials. Their all-weather bowling firm put on another show of aggression, but it’s the composure Shimron Hetmyer showed down their evolving batting order that should please them more.
Ravichandran Ashwin’s celebrations after consuming Jos Buttler told the story. He leapt in joy, punched the air and wagged his index finger. There was no elaborate set-up or planning, just instant deception.
Buttler likes to slog-sweep and Ashwin tempted him into the shot, only that the ball dipped at the last moment and the Englishman mistimed the shot to Shikhar Dhawan at square- leg. There was nothing eye-catching or dramatic about the dismissal, but the guile Ashwin demonstrated was a clear statement that he is far from a finished product in this format and that his craft is still of immense value.
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Buoyed by the Buttler wicket, Ashwin produced a T20 bowling masterclass, spreading out his feathers like a peacock and killing the match in the Powerplay itself. Even the exemplary Steve Smith chose caution, but for a pulled boundary when Ashwin erred for the only time on the night.
He found drift and dip, besides the perfect length on the surface. A combination of all these nuances accounted for Mahipal Lormor, who was lured to play on the leg-side by the drift before the ball pitched and turned away, procuring the leading edge of his bat. Ashwin was not seeking massive side-spin, but looking to purchase over-spin. So the length was not quite full, but slightly short of a spinner’s good length. He used the carrom ball sparingly, and mostly to prevent the batsmen from stepping out, to induce doubt and keep them tied to the crease.
Hetmyer shows maturity
The self-destructive tendencies of Shimron Hetmyer have often shaded out the attractiveness of his stroke-play. Blessed with equal amounts of finesse and power, he is prone to squandering his wicket in pursuit of the outrageous, often playing one stroke too many. It’s the main reason the Guyanese’s returns haven’t quite matched his reputation. It’s the reason he was quickly moved down from No. 3 to No. 6 in the Delhi Capitals batting order.
But on Friday, Hetmyer showed signs of maturing with an innings of poise and quality. The Capitals were in trouble at 79/4 when he walked out. The Rajasthan Royals spinners were conceding little away. They could ill-afford losing another wicket. Hetmyer had to play the waiting game yet ensure that the run rate motored along. It’s a blend he hadn’t quite mastered in the past, but he did incredibly well in this game. The West Indian played the first eight deliveries carefully, nothing careless, nothing injudicious, just old-fashioned ODI batting.
Then when the bowled erred, ever-so-slightly, he would latch with the relish of a tiger. Short balls he would pummel, length ball he would pulverise. At the same time, he righted the old failing of soaking up too many dot balls, especially off spinners. The pull and the hook were his favourite tools, while he cashed in on the short straight boundaries too. Hetmyer’s dazzle, by compromising much of his daring, ensured that his bowlers had a competitive total of 184/8 to defend.
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