Rabada steals the show
When Prithvi Shaw departed for 99, Delhi Capitals, chasing 186 for a win, were still in control of the proceedings and needed 12 runs from 9 deliveries. The equation changed to 6 from the final over. With six wickets in the shed, it still looked like an open-and-shut case for the home team. However, Kuldeep Yadav bowled an excellent final over, in which he kept Delhi’s belligerence in check and also accounted for Hanuma Vihari’s scalp. Two runs were needed off the last delivery, but Colin Ingram could muster only a single before getting run out under thrilling circumstances to set the stage for season’s first Super Over. Batting first, Delhi scored 10 runs, before Kagiso Rabada bowled a series of sensational yorkers to restrict the rampant KKR by three runs and register their second win of the season.
Feroz ‘Shaw’ Kotla
In his short career, Prithvi Shaw has quickly earned the reputation of being an audacious stroke-player against the quick bowlers. He is blessed with a good hand-eye co-ordination and an equally impressive array of horizontal strokes, which made up, at times, for his limited footwork. Against the KKR, there was another striking aspect of his batsmanship that stood out — his ability to take on quality spinners. In pursuit of 186, Delhi had already lost Shaw’s experienced opening partner Shikhar Dhawan early on. The vital moment of the game came after Powerplay when Karthik introduced Kuldeep Yadav. At the outset, Yadav would deceive Shaw in the air, but the U-19 World Cup winning captain somehow managed to get the elevation to thump him for a six. Having got a measure of the wrist-spinner, Shaw tore into him in his subsequent over, creaming him for a brace of sixes and a boundary to bring up his 50 in just 30 deliveries to leave a packed Feroz Shah Kotla in his thrall. Shaw’s onslaught against Yadav was the highlight of the chase.
It will not be much of a stretch to state that Russell-mania is the flavour of IPL-12. The Jamaican has pulled off two out-of-the-world performances with the bat, which were instrumental in Kolkata Knight Riders’ run this season. Against Sunrisers Hyderabad at Eden Gardens, his unbeaten 19-ball 49 at the fag-end helped his team gun down a rather improbable chase. He followed that with a quickfire 48 while batting first, against the Kings XI Punjab at Mohali, to set up another resounding win for his team. Ahead of Delhi Capitals home game at the Feroz Shah Kotla, all-rounder Chris Morris summed up Russell’s threat aptly:”You need to be thick-skinned when you bowl to a genius like Andre Russell.” Morris was not off the mark.
In his two innings spanning just 36 deliveries, Russell has the tournament’s highest strike-rate at a whopping 259. Suffice to note that when the 30-year-old is around, the pitch and the bowlers tend to get redundant. On Saturday evening, KKR struggled to get their act together after being asked to take first strike. Delhi’s young leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane, playing the first match of the season, and medium-pacer Harshal Patel, ran through their top-order with decisive scalps. When Russell walked out to bat, the visitors were in strife at 61/5 from 9.4 overs.The burly all-rounder had his captain Dinesh Karthik at the other end.
At that stage, they had not set their bar too high. “A total of 150 would give them a fighting chance,” they would have thought. Over the next 45 minutes, those modest estimates were thrown out of the window. That’s because Russell stepped up yet again, thrilling Kotla with his scintillating stroke-play. After getting hit by a Harshal Patel beamer in the 14th over, the all-rounder was up on his feet and kick-started his innings with a brace of sixes against Morris and Patel. He followed it up with a vicious cut off Rabada to bring up his half-century in 23 deliveries. In the space of three overs, Russell had once again turned the match on its head with his imperious hitting. When he walked out to bat, a score of 150 looked like a stiff task. But they had raced past that mark in the 18th over.
The beauty with Russell’s hitting was that there were no half-measures in his shot execution. Even though he favoured the leg-side, especially the cow corner, he was equally prolific through the off-side. Russell’s 28-ball 62 took his season’s tally to 159 runs, but it’s the brutal strike-rate of 248.43 that stood out. For the third time in succession, in the midst of his strokemaker’s extravagance, Karthik’s 36-ball 50 almost went unnoticed. Their sixth-wicket alliance yielded 95 runs off 53 deliveries that propelled them to 185/7.