In terms of pure thrill, Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada can set the pulse racing by cranking up their speed. The wicket and the size of the field at Dubai International Stadium gives them the licence to go flat out. Playing their first game together this season, Delhi Capitals pace machines lived up to the hype, dismantling Sunrisers Hyderabad with their express pace and control.
On Monday, the South African pace duo shared five wickets to restrict bottom-placed SRH to 134/9. Title-favourites DC chased down the total in 17.5 overs losing just two wickets to start the UAE leg of 2021 IPL in impressive fashion and move back to the top of the table with 14 points.
Nortje put on a show of fast bowling, returning excellent figures of 4-0-12-2 while Rabada continued his prolific form by adding three more scalps to his tally. Given the new ball, Nortje set the tone with 145 kph-plus thunderbolts. With his third ball he removed SRH’s most successful batter, David Warner, for nought. The left-handed opener was surprised by the bounce Nortje extracted from short of a length and the ball hit the shoulder of the blade for a simple catch to Axar Patel at short cover.
With his second ball of the second over, the speed gun clocked 150 kph; it was followed by a 151.7 delivery. Last season, the 27-year-old had bowled the fastest delivery in the history of IPL as he clocked 156.22 kph in a match against Rajasthan Royals.
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He forms an excellent strike partnership with Rabada because of the kind of pressure they build together. In the last edition in the UAE, Rabada was the highest wicket-taker. His knack of picking up wickets was again on display as he kept striking at crucial stages of the game. He first removed opener Wriddhiman Saha, preying on the batter’s weakness against the short ball, before returning to claim the wickets of Manish Pandey and Abdul Samad.
SRH, who elected to bat, failed to gather any sort of momentum and at 32/2 after six overs, all eyes were on captain Kane Williamson. But he just couldn’t find his rhythm. Despite being dropped twice in four balls, Williamson fell tamely when he tried to loft left-arm spinner Axar Patel. The DC bowler kept up the early pressure exerted by his fast bowlers by bowing his first three overs for 3-0-14-1. He capped an excellent display by returning in the 16th over to have Jason Holder caught by Prithvi Shaw at short cover, finishing with figures of 4-0-21-2.
With Shreyas Iyer back, the DC bating line-up looked absolutely intimidating. SRH kept DC’s dangerous opening pair of Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan quiet in the powerplay overs, but Iyer came in to bat at No 3 and anchored the chase in the company of skipper Pant. He top-scored with 47 not out off 41 balls (2×4, 2×6).
Khaleel Ahmed, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jason Holder did well to restrict DC to 29 for one in the first five overs. Dhawan and Iyer though brought up the team’s fifty in 7.5 overs. At that stage DC needed 84 off 73 balls. After 10 overs, it was 69 for one, and their partnership 50 off 44 balls. Leg-spinner Rashid Khan remained SRH’s best hope of making a match of it.
With a below par total to defend, the pressure was on the Afghanistan star. He was up against two good players of spin. Even though Iyer had hit him into the midwicket stands for a six, he managed to break the second-wicket partnership by having Dhawan caught in the deep. The experienced left-hander scored 42 off 37 balls by sticking to his style of finding his runs through gaps, the six off Khan being his only power hit.
At the end of the 13th over, DC’s target was down to 50 off 42 balls. Iyer picked up two fours off Sandeep Sharma to make it 39 off 36 balls. After that there was no opportunity for SRH to come back into the game with Pant smashing an unbeaten 35 off 21 balls. Iyer finished off the game with a six off Holder with 13 balls to spare.