IPL 2021: Delhi hold nerve to beat Mumbai by six wickets
Amit Mishra's four wickets and Dhawan's 45 help Delhi win tense battle
For the record, the Delhi Capitals beat the Mumbai Indians by six wickets in a low-scoring Indian Premier League (IPL) encounter on Tuesday.
But what could never be found in any record books is Delhi’s desperate struggle for that elusive win against their biggest nemesis.
The Mumbai Indians always seem to have the measure of the Capitals.
And their dominance over Delhi was especially remarkable last year.
Despite building a solid team to end their IPL drought, the Delhi Capitals were left high and dry last season in the UAE. Their all-round brilliance saw them reach the final, only to lose to the Mumbai Indians in the title decider.
It wasn’t just the defeat in the final to the most dominant team in the tournament history that was demoralizing.
Mumbai was a puzzle the Capitals failed to solve last year, losing all four of their clashes with the Rohit Sharma-led team.
Having fallen short against Mumbai in the two league matches, Delhi collapsed in the first Qualifier before bouncing back in the second Qualifier against the Sunrisers Hyderabad to earn another shot at Mumbai in the final.
But in that final last November, Mumbai dismantled Delhi with clinical precision.
It was against this backdrop of recent head-to-head record that Delhi went into the ring for another fight with Mumbai on Tuesday.
And when Rohit (44, 30 balls, 3 fours, 3 sixes) and Suryakumar Yadav (24, 15 balls, 4 fours) started hitting the Delhi bowlers for fun with Mumbai reaching 55 for one in six overs, it seemed another heartbreak for Delhi was on the cards.
But Amit Mishra, the veteran leg-spinner whose 2020 IPL campaign ended painfully after just three matches due to a finger injury, broke the back of the Mumbai Indians batting.
With a superb display of turn, guile and control, Mishra (4/24) got the better of Rohit, Hardik Pandya (0), Kieron Pollard (2) and Ishan Kishan (26, 28 balls, 1 four and 1 six) to help the Capitals restrict the five-time champions to a low total of 137 for nine.
Despite Mishra laying a solid foundation, the Delhi Capitals batsmen were in danger of slipping up in their chase even as the dew made it difficult for the Mumbai Indians bowlers to grip the ball.
Eventually, the Capitals crawled to the finish line for a six-wicket win, bringing relief to their dugout.
Shikhar Dhawan (45, 42 balls, 5 fours and 1 six), the highest scorer this season, was once again in sublime touch despite losing Prithvi Shaw (7) and Steve Smith (33, 29 balls, 4 fours) at the other end.
But the left-handed opener’s dismissal in the 15th over with Delhi still needing 38 runs, gave Mumbai a chance to spark another batting collapse from a rival team.
Rohit’s team sensed a big opportunity when Delhi captain Rishabh Pant (7) fell two overs later, but Lalit Yadav (22 not out, 25 balls, 1 four) and Shimron Hetmyer (14 not out, 9 balls, 2 fours) eventually took Delhi home in the final over.
“This win brings a lot of confidence to our team. Really happy. We just had to keep the momentum going,” Dhawan said.
“We knew at the end it will be difficult for the bowling side with dew. It was important to keep wickets in hand and at the same time have positive intent. Everyone was watching the match intensely in the dug-out and we wanted to win.”
And Rohit refused to blame the dew factor for their first defeat to Delhi in five matches.
“Credit to Delhi bowlers - they kept the pressure up and kept taking wickets,” he said.
“We knew dew was going to come in. We saw in the last few games, but dew is not really the factor. You need to play smart cricket to win.”
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