It's great for a team if its opener registers back-to-back centuries. Shikhar Dhawan became the first batsman in IPL to achieve the feat, but Delhi Capitals failed to capitalise on that in Dubai on Tuesday. Despite him hitting an unbeaten 106 off 61 balls, the table-toppers settled for 164/5. The other batsmen
accumulated 54 off 59.
That proved costly, as riding Nicholas Pooran's 28-ball 53, Glenn Maxwell's patient 32, Chris Gayle's 13-ball 29 and contributions from here and there, Kings XI posted a five-wicket win with an over to spare. A fourth win in 10 matches lifted them to fifth on the table and kept them in the race for a last-four berth.
Delhi remained on top with 14 points from 10 games.
That Punjab managed to keep Delhi within manageable limits was due to the efforts of Mohammed Shami. The fast bowler conceded just 13 runs bowling the 18th and 20th overs, which prevented Delhi from pushing their total near the 180-run mark. With a set Dhawan toying with the bowlers, that was very much within Delhi's reach.
However, the middle-order failed to keep pace with Dhawan. Not just that, they even failed to keep him company. The stage was set for the likes of Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant to get a big one. Both fell for 14. Then, Marcus Stoinis and Shimron Hetmyer fell for nine and 10, respectively. Other than Shami, Maxwell too bowled two tidy overs towards the end.
Punjab's chase didn't start in a grand manner, with Mayank Agarwal departing in the third over. But Gayle's aggression got the innings going. The left-hander took 24 off an over from Tushar Deshpande before falling to Ravichandran Ashwin. By that time, Punjab had 52 on the board in 5.2 overs and run rate was not a problem.
Pooran swung the match Punjab's way by launching a ferocious attack. Lying low after a 77 against Sunrisers Hyderabad on October 8, the left-hander was severe on all the bowlers. He hit six fours and three sixes. Although he fell in the 13th over, his team was in control at 125/4 at that stage. Pooran's partnership
with Maxwell was worth 69 runs.
Delhi possess one of the best attacks in the tournament and four of their frontline bowlers did a good job. The most expensive of the four conceded 30 off four overs. But as feared, fifth bowler turned out to be a problem. Deshpande went for 41 from two overs and Stoinis 14 from one. Apart from the failure of
batsmen barring Dhawan, this was another factor that hit Delhi hard.
Brief scores: Delhi 164/5 in 20 overs (Dhawan 101 n.o) lost to Punjab 167/5 in 19
overs (Pooran 53, Maxwell 32).