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Iyer special helps Delhi hunt down 196

Wisden India logo Wisden India 10-05-2017

© Wisden On the face of it, the Indian Premier League 2017 fixture between Gujarat Lions and Delhi Daredevils at Green Park in Kanpur on Wednesday (May 10) was a match of no consequence. Both teams were out of the playoff race and were looking to nurse their wounded pride.

But when Amit Mishra hit two fours in the last over to seal a two-wicket win for Delhi, you could see how much it meant for the side, with even the usually composed Rahul Dravid pumping his fist in delight. There was no century for Shreyas Iyer but his brilliant 57-ball 96 had anchored the chase till the very end, with a bit of help from Pat Cummins (24 in 13 balls).

Opting to field first, Delhi let Gujarat run away with the game and amass 195 for 5. It seemed beyond Delhi unless, of course, lightning struck twice and Rishabh Pant scripted another scintillating chase, as he had done last week against the same side.

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That didn’t happen, though, as Pant, coming in after Sanju Samson was dismissed early, made it 15 for 2 with a bit of absent-mindedness. There was an appeal for lbw from Pradeep Sangwan, which the umpire was not interested in, and in the din, Pant was waving his partner to stay put at the other end, all whilst failing to ground his own bat in the crease. Suresh Raina showed great awareness and ran him out for four.

From there, Delhi decided to test out just how good Gujarat’s fielding unit was. Pretty good, it turned out. Marlon Samuels and Corey Anderson were both run out by Ravindra Jadeja, while Karun Nair and Carlos Brathwaite offered little more than catching practice.

All the while, Iyer was batting calmly at the other end. He had just brought up his half-century when Cummins joined him with the score at 121 for 6, with 76 needed off 37 balls. Gujarat lifted the foot off the pedal, perhaps thinking that Iyer was fighting a lone battle. Sangwan conceded two fours and a single to Iyer before Cummins clubbed two fours off his own. That 17-run over was followed up with a 14-run over from Dhawal Kulkarni, and soon both batsmen were picking out James Faulkner for special treatment with a six each to smoke 21 runs from the 17th.

Basil Thampi snuck in a quiet over to ramp up the pressure, and Cummins fell to Faulkner, but a thick outside edge from Mohammed Shami that went for four brought the equation to a very possible nine off six balls.

But Iyer inside-edged a yorker from Thampi on to his stumps to leave his side needing seven runs from four balls. Mishra had faltered in a similar situation against Royal Challengers Bangalore early on in the tournament, but this time he redeemed himself, taking the team across the finish line on his own.

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After conceding 213 to Mumbai Indians before crashing to a 146-run defeat, Delhi fielded the same team with one change – Carlos Brathwaite coming in for Kagiso Rabada, who had to leave for international duty. It meant that Gujarat, though they lost a few wickets, were similarly fearless against Delhi.

Dwayne Smith was caught short of his crease despite a throw that wasn’t quite on target and was sent back for eight. Cummins then disturbed Raina’s stumps with a fuller delivery to send him back for six. The bigger blow came in the next over, when Ishan Kishan (34 in 25) looked to sweep Mishra but top-edged to Zaheer Khan at short fine-leg.

But losing three wickets up front made no difference to Gujarat, who had motored to 62 in the seventh over. The hundred came in the 12th over with both Dinesh Karthik and Aaron Finch tucking into some none-too threatening bowling by Delhi.

Brathwaite, bowling the 17th over, snapped up Karthik for a 28-ball 40 with the first ball, but Finch paid him no mind as he smacked 16 runs off the remaining five deliveries. He followed that up with consecutive fours off Cummins and was looking to do the same against Shami but the knock of 69 off 39 came to a screeching halt because of an excellent yorker.

A few fumbles on the field allowed Gujarat to sneak in 11 runs off the last over, but that only heightened the excitement of the game in the end.

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