Was it just a spectacular bowling performance from Delhi or did the Royals choke in their run-chase as they couldn't score 39 in the last 30 balls? Well, either way it was yet another action packed evening in Dubai as Delhi Capitals defended 161 by 13 runs to be placed at the top of the table with 12 points.
Throughout the 40 overs we witnessed a lot of ups and downs in the match as the pendulum kept swinging both ways. Here are some the major talking points coming out from this closely fought fixture.
Jofra needs more support from the other end
Individually, the IPL 2020 has been one of the most prolific tournaments in Jofra Archer's career so far. He has bowled fast and looked lethal even on these slow UAE pitches. In fact, the Englishman has bowled the most number of deliveries over 150 kmph in this competition as well as the highest number of dot balls (101 in 32 overs). Also, with 12 scalps from eight games, he is now second highest wicket-taker in this year's IPL and has a better economy rate (6.56) than Kagiso Rabada (7.61) who tops the chart.
On Wednesday, Jofra started strong with the wicket of Prithvi Shaw on the very first ball of the match and in his next over got rid of Ajinkya Rahane. In the initial spell the speedster conceded just 5 runs for 2 wickets. Then at the death he came back and gave away only 14 runs and also took the prized scalp of Marcus Stoinis.
Despite his figures of 3/19, Rajasthan conceded more than 160 on that slow wicket, which tells us that Archer is not getting enough support from the other bowlers. In the list of Purple Cap, the second best Rajasthan bowler is leg-spinner Rahul Tewatia, who is 27th with just five scalps, which clearly shows the difference in quality between Archer and rest of his bowling colleagues.
For the team management it will be very hard to fix this issue permanently, at least this season, but in the next auction Rajasthan should look to invest on a quality option, preferably an Indian, who can play the supporting role for Archer.
Dhawan finally shows intent of scoring quicker
Quality death bowling by both quality fast bowlers !! @KagisoRabada25 nortje !! @rajasthanroyals middle order could not handle the pressure of a must win game ! Top knocks @SDhawan25 @ShreyasIyer15 #IPL2020
— Yuvraj Singh (@YUVSTRONG12) October 14, 2020
In this fixture it was very refreshing to see Shikhar Dhawan being the aggressor at the top. Despite Delhi losing a couple of wickets early, the left-hander continued to counter-attack and reached his 50 in just 30 balls, which in fact is his fastest while batting first in the IPL. Considering Delhi's batting depth, Dhawan should ideally play his free-flowing game more often instead of trying to be the anchor as there are people like Rahane and Shreyas Iyer who can take up that role.
Delhi's struggle in death overs
At 129 for 3 after 15 overs, Delhi were perhaps expecting a finish like Chennai in the previous game. But they could only manage 32 runs in their last five, which is now the worst last-five overs for any team batting first this season. On further inspection, credit goes to the Royals bowlers. Young Kartik Tyagi bowled some accurate yorkers while Jaydev Unadkat was hard to get away with with his slower ones and cutters.
This performance actually depicts the fact that when Archer gets some support from his fellow bowlers this Royals bowling unit can be pretty hard to deal with.
Rajasthan's misfiring foreigners and should Stokes continue to open?
No doubt, Rajasthan is a top-heavy batting unit and this season their primary problem has been the lack of runs from their marquee foreign batters like Jos Buttler (168 runs in 7 innings at an average of 24) and skipper Steve Smith (163 runs in 8 innings at 20.37). Furthermore, with their Indian batting contingent like Sanju Samson and Robin Uthappa not being very productive, this batting line-up looks a bit fragile.
Out of their three victories this year, two had come thanks to the individual brilliance of Rahul Tewatia. However, the talking point is when you have two of the world's best white-ball finishers in your squad – Buttler and Ben Stokes – one cannot expect an inexperienced uncapped player to bail the team out from a hole on each occasion.
Hence, the question: with the lack of fire power in the middle-order, should Stokes continue to be a makeshift opener for the Royals? Yes, he can give you some quick runs in the powerplay, like we saw against Delhi, but as a batsman Stokes is likely to be far more impactful down the order.
The sooner the Royals realise it, the better it will be for their quest for a spot in the playoffs.
How good was Delhi's bowling effort at the backend
Once again we witnessed a top-notch bowling effort from the Capitals. Barring the initial few overs when Buttler and Stokes went after Rabada and Anrich Nortje, the bowlers maintained their shape and executed the game plan brilliantly. They mixed their lengths as well as the pace which kept the Rajasthan batters guessing.
— IPL 2020 HIGHLIGHT (@ipl2020highlite) October 14, 2020
— Delhi Capitals (Tweeting from ) (@DelhiCapitals) October 14, 2020
Nortje bowled the fastest delivery in the history of IPL, which clocked 156.22 kmps mark. He was accurate at the death and hit the blockholes more often than anyone else. In the 18th overs when the opponent needed just 29 off 18, Nortje produced a four-run over. Rabada then followed it up with a three-run over and a wicket. Those two overs set things up nicely for debutant Tushar Deshpande, who had to defend 22 in the last six balls of the match. The young medium pacer, who replaced Harshal Patel, had a pretty decent outing and showed a lot of maturity under pressure.
Finally, it will be very unfair to the Capitals spinners if we only discuss their pace bowling. It was Ravichandran Ashwin who first got rid of a threatening Buttler inside the powerplay to provide his team some breathing space following the initial onslaught. The off-spinner conceded just 17 runs in his four overs whereas left-armer Axar Patel castled Samson and gave Ashwin some decent support in the middle-overs.
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