In the end, the victory was a failure than a walk. In the end, the difference was just Marcus Stoinis. His cameo propelled the Delhi Capitals to a rocket-fueled start before his seemingly harmless average pace struck at the game’s most critical moments. But Sunrisers Hyderabad fought valiantly to the end while chasing 190 – on another day the hero could easily have been Kane Williamson or perhaps the energetic Abdul Samad – leaving Delhi with more relief than joy after the victory of 17 points, as they meet the Mumbai Indians in the IPL final on Tuesday.
– IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) November 8, 2020
Stoinis, the charm
It was one of those days when Stoinis couldn’t do anything wrong. A day that was just meant to be. After the cameo with the bat, the rugged Australian confirmed his bowling usefulness by nailing three wickets, two of them in an over, and literally blowing up the Hyderabad pursuit.
After Kagiso Rabada disturbed David Warner’s stumps, Priyam Garg and Manish Pandey were counter-punching when Stoinis entered. It seemed a mistake when Pandey whipped him for a limit, for bringing in a part-time crimper at a critical time seemed like a defensive move. But in three bullets, Stoinis changed the perception with Garg and Pandey’s scalps. Garg with a weird inward motion – when full he buys a hint of sewing motion – and the latter with a trimmer that stopped on Pandey.
Both drummers had clearly underestimated Stoinis’ bowling and his ability to steal wickets. It doesn’t have rhythm or too many variations, but it’s cerebral, shuffles its length, slips through the odd cutter, and has a surprise effort ball that slips off the beaters. The delivery that rocked Garg’s stumps was a few yards faster than his usual speed.
Then came the most vital blow of all. That of Kane Williamson, of which 67 raised the hope of a robbery in Hyderabad. From the realm of improbability, the Kiwi maestro had brought the equation into the realm of the possible. But Stoinis pushed in another off-cutter, full and wide, which Williamson could only cover thoroughly. Some days are just here to be. Stoinis would agree.
D for Dhawan, destruction
On the third ball from Jason Holder’s first stroke, Shikhar Dhawan sashayed down the track, made room by sliding the side of the leg, and threw his bat on a short ball that crashed behind the point. A shot full of muscle and authority. Only that with Dhawan, it is not a stroke that reflects his confidence, but his nerves. This is his exit or fitness shot. The one he dials in an emergency.
After three drops in the last four outings, Dhawan was understandably nervous, which manifested in his nervous footwork on the first. But the aforementioned blow calmed his nerves, as he walked in and stroked himself to a sublime 78, a blow that provided the Delhi Capitals with both strength and stability, though the scoring pace narrowed towards the end.
With 606 races, this season has already been Dhawan’s most prolific in IPL. At the heart of his resurgence has been an improved ability to pivot the strike and add skill to his leg play. The spinners’ slog-sweep has always been his favorite, so competent that he could play while blindfolded. Just sample the six-brace he hit from Shahbaz Nadeem – just pick the length, bend them, and club them on the midwicket.
But these days against the couturiers, the left-hander has learned the fallacy, as evidenced by a nudge from Holder. He just moved around, crouched down a bit, and slapped the ball through his square leg. In the past he would have tried to run these deliveries through the midwicket, which he used for some limits at first. The fact that he didn’t score just 10 deliveries showed Dhawan’s improved strike rotation prowess.
Dhawan thus embodied Delhi’s bellicose approach. However, he was the sole survivor of the modified top three after the surrender to the Mumbai Indians. As much as a change of personnel, their approach was much more aggressive. The decision to open with Stoinis telegraphed their intention. The 86-race first-wicket alliance was a dope thing. Driven by the opening duties, in the wake of Prithvi Shaw’s sustained fragility, the beefy Australian struck uninhibited like a bull allowed to flee.
Left on 3 by Holder halfway through, he broke four limits and a six in the next eight balls. Two days ago Delhi had three misses without a run on the board, here they raged at 50 in just 4.5 overs. The momentum was overwhelming, and they managed to keep the tempo going until the very last end, when T Natarajan delivered a tremendous boundless gig.
The hitherto disappointing Shimron Hetmyer provided fireworks to the death, his 22-ball 42 is not a fusion of power and flair. A six cut off Natarajan was a throwback to Guyanese stick tradition. He just measured the length and hit it, a last-moment twist of the wrists providing the necessary elevation and placement. He then tore the West Indian skipper Holder, plundering four borders in the 18th.