It was a Saturday of the captains in the Indian Premier League. After newly-appointed captain Steve Smith led Rajasthan Royals to a 5-wicket win over Mumbai Indians, it was Delhi Capitals skipper Shreyas Iyer’s chance to help his team cross the line.
Chasing a target of 164 at their home ground Feroz Shah Kotla, captain Iyer (56 off 41 balls) and opener Shikhar Dhawan stitched a strong 92-run partnership after young Prithvi Shaw fell for 13.
But once Dhawan fell for 56 (off 41 balls), the wickets started tumbling. Rishabh Pant for 6, Colin Ingram for 19 and Axar Patel for 1. From needing 28 off 24 balls, Delhi needed 6 off the last 6 balls.
Sam Curran was handed the ball, and the 20th over started with Iyer taking a single and putting Sherfane Rutherford on strike. Another single and the skipper was back on strike. A double and then a boundary, and the Delhi Capitals had safely been taken home by the skipper with 5 wickets in hand and 2 balls remaining.
Earlier, Chris Gayle smashed five gargantuan sixes into the night sky before Delhi Capitals put the brakes and restricted Kings XI Punjab to 163 for seven. Gayle top-scored with 69 off 37 balls, reaching the half century in 25 balls and hitting six boundaries besides the towering sixes.
Coming back into the team, young leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane returned figures of 3/40, playing an influential role in helping DC rally after Gayle's blitzkrieg.
Considering the dew factor in mind, Delhi Capitals skipper Shreyas Iyer invited the visitors to bat first.
And the hosts, seeking to end their run of woes at the Feroz Shah Kotla, enjoyed early success when Lamichhane tossed the ball up and had K L Rahul stumped with one that turned sharply in the second over.
Ignored for the World Cup primarily because he is considered inferior to Dinesh Karthik behind the stumps, Rishabh Pant did a fine job whipping the bails off in a flash, as Rahul walked back after welcoming Lamichhane with a six down the ground and a four.
Apart from managing two runs from the nine deliveries he faced, Mayank Agarwal watched the action unfold from the other end, as Gayle flayed the Delhi spinners.
The 'Universe Boss', entering the game with 421 runs from nine matches, started his onslaught by smashing Ishant Sharma's knuckle ball over long on for one of the biggest sixes the stadium has ever witnessed, the 101m maximum threatening to break the windows of The Willingdon Pavilion.
He toyed with Amit Sharma and smoked the experienced leg-spinner for three maximums, including two over the deep mid wicket region.
Before that, the big-hitting Jamaican, one of the biggest globetrotters in T20 leagues, cut, drove and swept Lamichhane for four boundaries in a single over.
It took an acrobatic effort from Colin Ingram in the deep to bring to an end Gayle's belligerent stay in the middle.
After sweeping a Lamichhane delivery into the crowd, Gayle went for one too many, and Ingram, taking the ball over his head, lobbed it to Axar Patel before falling on the other side of the rope.
Returning to the playing XI, Lamichhane dismissed Sam Curran in the same 13th over in which he had Gayle, to peg the visitors back.
Pacer Kagiso Rabada picked up 2/23 in four overs, while Axar Patel took 2/22 in three overs.
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