Indian T20 League: Talking points from the thriller between Delhi and Punjab
Delhi stole a victory from the jaws of defeat and opened their campaign with a win over Punjab, who will rue the loss after throwing the game away in spectacular fashion.
We take a look at the biggest talking points from an incredible game of cricket:
Stoinis' sensational soirée
Delhi were reeling at 87/5 in the 15th over and in dire need of their lower order to get them to a decent total.
Up stepped Australian all-rounder Marcus Stoinis and smashed 53 off just 21 balls to help Delhi reach 157 in their batting effort. The 31-year-old struck seven fours and three sixes, two of which came in the 20th over, bowled by Englishman Chris Jordan, which yielded 29 runs for the Capitals.
Stoinis was also tasked with bowling three overs after veteran spinner Ravichandran Ashwin dislocated his shoulder, ending his night after bowling just one over. All hope was seemingly lost when Punjab were left needing just one run off the final three balls against Stoinis, but the all-rounder picked a wicket, then bowled a dot ball before dismissing Jordan on the final delivery to force a Super Over.
A brilliant all-round performance that won the Capitals the contest.
Mayank's magical knock
Chasing 157, Punjab were reduced to 101/6 in the 16th over and were all but out of the contest.
But Mayank Agarwal, who was batting at a strike-rate of under a run a ball, had other ideas. The 29-year-old, who is renowned for his stellar performances in red-ball cricket, went from 38 runs off 39 balls to 89 off 59, anchoring Punjab too, what seemed at the time, a rather unexpected victory.
But, his dismissal on a full toss with just one needed off three balls kickstarted a collapse that saw them throw the game away in the Super Over. Nonetheless, Agarwal showcased that he’s much more than just a terrific red-ball batsman and can more than hold his own in the shortest format of the game.
Punjab's puny middle-order
The defeat will be a hard pill to swallow for Punjab, but as captain KL Rahul mentioned in the post-match interview, the team would have taken the match going into a Super Over at the 10th-over mark of their chase.
Halfway through their innings, Punjab were in dire straits at 55/5, needing over a 100 runs in the next 10 overs and that was mostly down to a dramatic collapse from their middle-order during the second quarter of their innings. Nicholas Pooran, Glenn Maxwell and Sarfaraz Khan combined to score 13 off 19 balls before returning to the pavilion in a dismal showing in their team's first outing of the season.
It is no secret that Punjab are heavily reliant on KL Rahul and Chris Gayle, who will make his return sooner rather than later, but if the middle order doesn’t pick its form up, the team will be in huge trouble through the rest of the season.
Ashwin’s injury – what next?
Ravichandran Ashwin was enjoying a stellar debut for his new side Delhi.
The 34-year-old dismissed Karun Nair and Pooran in the space of four deliveries and gave away just two runs in his first over, which was also the final over of the Powerplay.
However, in a cruel twist of fate, Ashwin dove to field a shot from Glenn Maxwell and ended up landing on his shoulder. In visible discomfort, he had to be carried off the field by the team physios. It was later confirmed that the spinner had dislocated his shoulder, ending his night and possibly his season.
Losing the veteran is definitely a huge blow to Delhi' title odds, but they do have a couple of spinners at the opposite ends of their careers to draft into the playing XI for their next game against the Chennai Super Kings.
The team from the capital can either call upon 37-year-old Amit Mishra, who is the second-highest wicket-taker in the history of the Indian Premier League, with 157 scalps to his name, only behind Lasith Malinga, who has 170 and won’t feature this season.
They could also bring in Sandeep Lamichhane who has picked 13 wickets in his limited opportunities in the past two campaigns and is coming off a brilliant season in the Caribbean Premier League, where he took 11 wickets in 10 matches at a scarcely believable economy rate of 5.27.
While neither could be considered in the same league as Ashwin, both players are quality spinners and can ease the pain somewhat.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter /Indian T20 League