Mayank Agarwal batted brilliantly to get 99* in his first game as captain, but that wasn’t to be in a winning cause as Delhi Capitals chased down the Punjab Kings on Sunday in the 2021 VIVO Indian Premier League. Punjab managed to put on 166 runs on the board, but Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw led the chase for Delhi, helping the Capitals to a seven-wicket victory at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.

With their captain KL Rahul suffering that injury setback, Punjab Kings were forced into a change in their opening line-up yet again, with Prabhsimran Singh opening the innings with Mayank Agarwal. The openers started slowly, but in the third over Prabhsimran freed his arms to hit Ishant Sharma over covers for a six. 

The 20-year-old however couldn’t get a move on, as he was out caught by Steve Smith the next time he tried a big shot. New man Chris Gayle however wasted no time to get settled, as he smashed Avesh Khan straight back over his head for a four. He followed that up with a big six off Kagiso Rabada’s bowling, but the South African came up with the perfect reply as he knocked over the southpaw next ball. 

Debutant Dawid Malan and Agarwal though began the rebuild for the team, as they shrewdly negotiated the spinners with singles and doubles to push the score to 61/2 after nine. Malan finally let loose it the 12th over, getting a four and a six off Ishant’s bowling to keep the scoreboard ticking. 

The southpaw however was knocked over the next time he tried a big shot against the spin of Axar Patel. Things got worse for the batting side, as a mix-up resulted in Deepak Hooda being run out just a couple of balls later with the score at 90/4 after 14 overs. 

Agarwal though remained resolute, as he smacked Rabada for a six, and followed that up with a four off Ishant to get to his second fifty of IPL 2021. Having got to fifty, the stand-in skipper showed his true colours as he got a six and a couple of quick boundaries to push the score to 128 after 17 overs. 

New man Shahrukh Khan however failed to get going, as he sliced one straight to the cover fielder in the 18th over. The wickets didn’t dismay Agarwal, who hammered Rabada straight back over his head to get his third six of the evening. The 30-year-old picked on Avesh Khan’s last over as well, getting two fours and a six to end his innings at 99 not out, as Punjab Kings finished strong at 166/6. 

Turning Point

Chris Jordan’s first over went for 17 runs, giving Delhi Capitals a big advantage in the chase, which was anchored effectively by Shikhar Dhawan and Steve Smith.

In reply, the Delhi openers started positively as Prithvi Shaw got two fours and a six off Mohammed Shami’s first over. The Indian pacer was hit for two more boundaries in his next over, this time off the bat of Shikhar Dhawan as DC got 37 runs after the first four. 

Shaw continued to time the ball nicely, as he welcomed Ravi Bishnoi into the attack with a six over long off. The final powerplay over also proved to be expensive, as Chris Jordan was hit for 17 runs to ensure Delhi put up a score of 63/0 after six. 

The very first ball after the powerplay yielded a wicket, as Harpreet Brar knocked over Shaw with a beautiful delivery that turned late. The wicket slowed down the scoring rate, as the next four overs yielded just 24 runs. Dhawan finally freed his arms in the 12th over, getting a six over mid-wicket as Delhi Capitals’ team score got past 100. 

Punjab Kings desperately needed a wicket, and Riley Meredith answered their prayers in the 13th over, as Steve Smith was out caught in the deep. Dhawan though kept the chasing team in the ascendency, as he hit Bishnoi for a six and a four to get to his third fifty of IPL 2021. 

Dhawan continued to pick the gaps, while new man Rishabh Pant got a six over square leg early on, as the asking rate was brought down to below six an over for the first time in the evening. The southpaw however skied one straight into the hands of the cover fielder in the next over, as Punjab Kings sensed an outside chance of a comeback. 

Shimron Hetmyer however quashed those hopes as he got off the mark with a six, and followed that up with another six and a four, leaving Delhi needing just two with a little more than two overs to go. The winning runs however came off a wide, as Riley Meredith missed his length outside the off stump, giving Delhi Capitals a seven-wicket win over Punjab Kings. 

Punjab Kings play their next game against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Thursday, May 6.