Irrespective of victory or defeat, there is a certain joy to be had watching a particular strategy succeed on the field of play. Of course, winning is always the more desirable option. Especially so, if you belong to the Delhi Daredevils camp, that has been lingering at the wrong end of the points table for the last three seasons.
In their third game of the season, the Daredevils managed to chase down 192 runs for the loss of three wickets, moving up to third place on the points table, with two wins. So lets have three takeaways for the Delhi franchise after a memorable night in Bengaluru.
First of all, the return of Mohammad Shami bodes well for them, and for Indian cricket as a whole. The fast bowler has been plagued by injuries and over-bowling on the international stage, and in the past six months, has twice missed a return to the top fold. His first game in the IPL this season was pivotal, as he now returns hungry and eager to bowl. Fresh might be another way to describe him, given that he was always fatigued when the IPL came around. It is not so the case this time.
And it could be seen in the manner he gelled with Chris Morris, especially at the death, bringing his specialty to the fore. Together, they gave away only 27 runs in the last four overs, making sure that the Royal Challengers didn't get past the 200-run mark. In fact, it was to be the difference between victory and defeat in the end.
Secondly, the grace with which Quinton de Kock constructed his innings was remarkable. On a small ground, with boundaries brought in further, sixes are the norm. When the Royal Challengers played here last, against the Sunrisers Hyderabad, 23 sixes were hit in both innings. Fourteen of them came from the hosts as they set a 228-run target, and David Warner smacked five sixes alone in the second innings.
In comparison, de Kock used his timing and the swift outfield to greater effect. He placed the ball well, using the waywardness of the Bangalore bowlers, and hit 15 boundaries. Only three sixes flowed from his blade, pointing to the simple fact that this was'’t a bulldozed innings, instead it was built immaculately. Virat Kohli was left wondering what he could have possibly done. At the same time though, it is not beyond a wonder that he might have seen his own shadow in the manner de Kock went about chasing the improbable target.
And finally, Karun Nair's half-century not only turned the game in the Daredevils' favour, but it was also the epitome of their youth-first policy working out. It is only the third game of the season, and yet the progress of these "kids" cannot be undermined.
In Kolkata, they played some shoddy cricket, handicapped by the absence of JP Duminy's experience. At home on Friday, Sanju Samson showed that they had been talked to, and that they were ready to implement the hard lessons they learnt. Sunday's performance, coming off Nair's blade in the form of a superlative 50, pointed out that each of these youngsters are capable enough of holding their own on the big stage.
Nair's knock encapsulated the belligerence from their opening match, the sedate approach used at home against Kings XI Punjab, and then he imparted his own expertise of the local conditions, thus helping de Kock in the process. The latter is himself only 23-years-old, and together they spoiled Bangalore's party, sending a clear message that this Delhi team cannot be judged on its past results.
And this is where the underlying point comes from. From day one to day three, the Daredevils have gone from strength to strength. They have shown a willingness to rectify their mistakes and assimilate all that learning on the field of play. At the start of the season, it was all about how Rahul Dravid would mould this young team, and where someone as experienced as Zaheer Khan would fit in. In the span of 10 days, they have got the wheel well-oiled and turning smoothly.
Even so, the T20 format and the IPL are fickle. They have made a good start and this stunning run-chase has surely helped them gain attention of the other opposition teams. But the Daredevils must now put their heads down and work on the consistency factor, which will be vital to stay in contention during this long tournament. It will be their biggest test.