Debutant Tushar Deshpande lived up to the expectations of his teammates as Delhi Capitals rallied back to edge past Rajasthan Royals by 13 runs in the Dream11 Indian Premier League at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.
Asked to bowl the final over of the match, the 25-year-old Deshpande did not panic and bowled an excellent over to concede just eight runs to help Delhi Capitals notch up their sixth victory.
With this nail-biting win, Delhi Capitals have moved up a place and reclaimed their top spot in the points table. Their sixth win in eight matches more or less make them one of the first teams to book the play-offs berth.
On the other hand, Rajasthan Royals’ chances to stay alive in the competition got more and more difficult as they faced their fifth loss in eight matches. With just six points against their name, the road is pretty long and tough for the Steve Smith-led side to clinch a berth in the top-4 as they are languishing at the seventh spot.
Rajasthan Royals needed 22 runs from the last over with three wickets in hand but faltered completely. Mumbai-based Deshpande bowled bravely despite the presence of dangerous Rahul Tewatia at the crease.
Deshpande, who was instrumental in Mumbai lifting their first Vijay Hazare Trophy title in more than a decade last season, had a dream debut and returned with impressive figures of 2 for 32 from his four-over quota.
Rajasthan Royals have only themselves to blame for the loss. They needed 29 from the last three overs with five wickets to spare. However, they succumbed to pressure and literally gifted the win to their rivals.
Anrich Norkje, who was later declared man-of-the-match, conceded just four runs in the 18th over including the wicket of Robin Uthappa (32: 27 balls, 3×4, 1×6).
Kagiso Rabada did even better job as the arguably the best fast bowler on view in the IPL conceded just three runs in the penultimate over. The tall paceman also get rid of Jofra Archer, adding lot of pressure on the RR lower-order batsmen.
Rajasthan Royals squandered away a flying start as they raced to 37 in the third over. Although, they lost Butler (22 in 9 balls) and Steve Smith (1) in succession, they were always in control of the situation as Ben Stokes (41: 35 balls, 6×4) was going great guns.
Stokes added 46 runs with Sanju Samson (25) for the third wicket as Rajasthan Royals looked like marching towards an easy win. However, Delhi Capitals stand-in captain Shikhar Dhawan, who did the duty in the absence of injured Shreyas Iyer, encouraged his bowlers to do the best and backed them to the hilt.
Earlier, Shikhar Dhawan and Shreyas Iyer slammed brilliant half-centuries to help DC post 161 for 7.
Opting to bat on a sporting pitch, Delhi Capitals received two early jolts. Jofra Archer sent back Prithvi Shaw with a beauty of a delivery on the very first ball of the match. With such a fantastic start, Rajasthan Royals were pumped up and one can see the spring in their strides in the initial overs.
Ajinkya Rahane was the second victim of Archer. The No. 3 batsman struggled to negotiate the pace of Archer and Jaydev Unadkat. He consumed nine deliveries to make two runs.
With two down for 10 in 2.3 overs, Delhi Capitals were in a spot of bother. However, skipper Shreyas Iyer joined Dhawan and began the repairing job. The duo adopted attack is the best form of defence and displayed attractive strokes to all the corners of the ground.
The left-right combination of Dhawan and Iyer stitched together an important partnership of 85 runs at a fairly brisk pace.
Dhawan departed after making a quick-fire 57 off just 33 balls. The aggressive southpaw smashed six fours and a couple of sixes to steady the Delhi Capitals innings. Dhawan looked in splendid nick from the onset as he he dished out his trademark pulls and shots square off the off-side. It was his 39th half-century in the IPL.
Iyer (53: 43 balls, 3×4, 2×6) continued his solid batting and reached his fifty. However soon after he perished as he was held in the deep by Archer off Kartik Tyagi.
In-form all-rounder Marcus Stoinis and wicketkeeper-batsman Alex Carey, who was playing in place of an injured Rishabh Pant, contributed 18 and 14, respectively. They tried hard but could not accelerate the scoring.
Axar Patel remained unbeaten on 7. In the last five overs, Delhi Capitals struggled to get going and mustered just 32 runs for the loss of four wickets.
Archer was the star performer for Rajasthan Royals. The English all-rounder not only scalped three crucial wickets conceding mere 19 runs, the big player also snapped two superb catches.
Left-arm paceman Jaydev Unadkat gave able support to Archer and picked up a couple of wickets. Kartik Tyagi and Shreyas Gopal chipped in with a wicket apiece.
On Thursday, Royal Challengers Bangalore will lock horns with Kings XI Punjab at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. It will be must-win game for KL Rahul side as they are just two points to their credit.
Delhi Capitals 161 for 7 in 20 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 57, Shreyas Iyer 53, Marcus Stoinis 18, Alex Carey 14; Jofra Archer 3-19, Jaydev Unadkat 2-32, Kartik Tyagi 1-30, Shreyas Gopal 1-31) beat Rajasthan Royals 148 for 8 in 20 overs (Ben Stokes 41, Robin Uthappa 32, Sanju Samson 25, Jos Butler 22, Rahul Tewatia 14 not out; Anrich Nortje 2-33, Tushar Deshpande 2-37, R Ashwin 1-17, Kagiso Rabada 1-28, Axar Patel 1-32) by 13 runs.
Man-of-the-match: Anrich Nortje (Delhi Capitals).