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Sunday, October 17, 2021

IPL 2021: Slow track, sluggish Royals

Spirit-less Rajasthan surrender tamely to a disciplined Delhi Capitals bowling attack in a low-quality encounter

Written by Sriram Veera |
Updated: September 26, 2021 8:13:02 am
Rajasthan Royals' Sanju Samson congratulate Delhi Capitals players during IPL 2021. (IPL)

In a low-quality encounter on a pitch where the ball held up a bit, Delhi Capitals snubbed out Rajasthan Royals with their better bowling attack. Rajasthan batted as if they gave up the chase of 155 in the second over itself when they lost both openers. Even Sanju Samson, Rajasthan’s captain, absolved the pitch from any blame. “It was not that slow, it was holding up a bit, but we kept losing wickets.”

The grass-less pitch was a bit tacky perhaps, with the ball coming on a touch slowly, but batsmen didn’t extend themselves to try to adapt to the situation. They didn’t knock it around for singles, they didn’t try hitting, they didn’t try to force the bowlers to change lines or lengths … they were on an auto-pilot to nowhere. And they succeeded.

From that second over, until the 15th over when Samson picked up three fours, it was a strange yawn-fest. Delhi kept plugging on, with a mix of spin and seam, and Rajasthan kept pushing and prodding. Regular programming returned after that 15th over and that was that.

A team can be understandably a bit surprised by the slowness of the pitch had they batted first – it wasn’t that drastic but enough sluggishness in there to upset their natural bat-speeds, but to have seen Delhi bat and then go into this sleep mode in the chase should call for some introspection. “With the quality of the batsmen in our team, I thought it was an easy choice. But we kept losing wickets and didn’t have the momentum to go after it,” Samson would summarise it later.

The Delhi bowlers though did most things spot on — be it R Ashwin and Axar Patel or the seamers Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada, they all kept it tight enough to let Rajasthan tie themselves up in knots. Nortje burned up the track with his pace even on this slow track while Rabada threw in his mix of slower ones and surprise bouncers.

A low-quality encounter

One wonders at what stage in their innings, Delhi decided that 150 would be a good score. Shikhar Dhawan fell early after a defensive pat proved so soft that the ball rolled back on to the stumps and Prithvi Shaw prodded around before he fell to Chetan Sakariya, miscuing a swipe across the line to a ball angling across him. From then on, Delhi slowly turned cautious as they started to find more about the pitch. Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant were the ones who dealt with the middle overs but slowly found out that this track wasn’t too ideal for big hits. And so they adjusted and started to rotate the strike.

It was left to Shimron Hetmeyer and an average second spell from Kartik Tyagi to get them past 150. In the 16th over, Hetmeyer slammed three fours as Tyagi leaked 16. He repeatedly made room to the leg side and carved the full, length, and short deliveries behind square on the off side. In his next over, he slipped out two wides and ended up giving 11 more. Those 27 runs from two overs of Tyagi helped Delhi move past 150, which proved more than enough.

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