Capitals increase from 23 to 5 to stun Titans on the table

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Capitals of Delhi 130 for 8 (Aman 51, Shami 4-11, Mohit 2-33) Gujarat Titans 125 for 6 (Hardik 59*, Ishant 2-23, Khaleel 2-24) with five runs

In a game of twists and turns of epic proportions, Delhi Capitals trumped the table top Gujarat Titans in Ahmedabad in tenth place to win in dramatic fashion by five runs.

The pendulum of the game swung countless times starting with Mohammed Shami picking up four wickets in the power play to take Capitals down to 23 for 5. But Aman Hakim Khan’s first T20 fifty and contributions from Axar Patel and Ripal Patel dragged the Capitals to 130 for 8.

Capitals then took the upper hand as Khaleel Ahmed, Ishant Sharma and Kuldeep Yadav left the Titans on the mat 32 for 4. Although Hardik Pandya stabilized the chase by half a century, the momentum was as Capitals entered the last two overs.

Just when the game looked lost, Rahul Tewatia skipped a hat-trick of sixes off Anrich Nortje in the 19th to put Titans within easy reach of victory. But Ishant held his nerve in the final, conceding only six against Hardik, Tewatia and Rashid Khan to seal the deal for Capitals.

Tewatia provides an exciting finish

When Titans needed 42 from the last four overs, the game could have gone either way. But silent overs by Kuldeep and Khaleel to end their respective spells secured the equation 33 from the last two overs.

When Nortje started the 19th again with three pinpoint yorkers, the game was in the hands of the Capitals, only for Tewatia to revive the home crowd with three consecutive sixes on the leg side. When Ishant ran in to bowl the 20th, momentum was with the Titans, but Hardik and Tewatia couldn’t find the early boundary in the over. Ishant then got Tewatia caught at cover, and when Rashid Khan needed a six off the last ball to force a Super Over, he gave up only a single to finish with figures of 2 for 23.

Capitals Indian players stand up

Warner, who was empty, Phil Salt and Rilee Rossouw all failed the bat and were the first three men to leave after Capitals chose to bat at the coin toss. When Shami also ejected Manish Pandey and Priyam Garg, there was a chance that Capitals would fold to a score below 100.

But Aman and Axar put 50 balls off 54 for the sixth wicket to revive the innings. The pitch wasn’t hugely difficult, but the early shocks forced the pair onto the defensive. As their partnership grew, their scoring increased, but Capitals suffered another setback as Axar fell at the end of the 14th and Mohit Sharma failed in the deep end. However, Aman took over the lead after Axar’s dismissal and reached his half-century. He combined with Ripal to help Capitals take 41 runs from overs 16 to 18, a game pass that allowed them to let Titans win 131.

Then it was Khaleel, Kuldeep, Axar and Ishant who hurt Titans during the chase. Khaleel bowled a first-over maiden which included Wriddhiman Saha’s wicket. Khaleel returned to the team after a long break with a hamstring injury, beat Saha’s lead three times on his first three deliveries and then found the lead to the keeper on the last ball of the over.

Two overs later, Shubman Gill went to Nortje and found cover with a drive, but the body hits came when Ishant Vijay rattled Shankar’s stumps with a knuckle and Kuldeep disturbed David Miller’s posts. That left the Titans teetering at 32 for 4, almost as bad as Capitals’ 23 for 5.

Hardik and Abhinav Manohar battled away to set up a 62-run fifth wicket partnership, but they consumed 63 balls, allowing the required pace to rise steadily. Axar gave up just 24 in four wicketless overs, while Kuldeep finished with a frugal 1 for 15, including a five-run 17th over. Khaleel and Ishant then bowl great overs either side of Nortje’s costly 19th to make it a day of celebration for Capitals.

Shami’s super spell

Shami’s wicket with the first ball was a lucky one, a slot delivery hit directly by Salt, but after that it was all skill. He delivered four overs straight after taking the new ball to finish on figures of 4 for 11, with 19 dots in 24 balls. He operated at a good length and tipped Rossouw over a throw to Saha in his second.

In his third over, he remained at the same length with a more prominent standing seam as right-handers Pandey and Garg, and both batters were caught chasing fish on out-of-door deliveries. Shami, who took the Player of the Match award, extended his lead at the top of the IPL 2023 list for most power play wickets. Sandwiched between Shami’s first two wickets was Warner’s dismissal, run out at the non-striker’s end after a mix-up with Garg.

Once Shami’s spell was cast, the field didn’t change much for Noor Ahmad or Rashid Khan. Mohit and Josh Little also found little to hold on to with their cutters. The two sailors ended up with relatively expensive figures because they couldn’t control the stream of runs at death. Capitals scored 52 in their last five overs, powered by Ripal’s unbeaten 13-ball 23 and Aman’s 44-ball 51, which ultimately proved to be the difference.

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx



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