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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Mishra’s dream spell paves the way for Capitals getting the better of five-time champions

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Delhi Capitals were cruising at one stage. But Mumbai Indians’ never-say-die attitude took the game into the final over. Shikhar Dhawan and Rishabh Pant departed in quick succession to make matters tense for Capitals, but Jasprit Bumrah bowled two no-balls to release the pressure. Also, MI had only 137 runs on the board, and Shimron Hetmyer and Lalit Yadav held their nerve to secure a six-wicket win with five balls remaining.

Capitals’ win was even more creditable for this was their first match in Chennai. Conditions were tricky, something which MI got acquainted with, as this was their fourth game at Chepauk. But Capitals were the better team on the night.

Mishra rolls back the years

In favourable conditions, Amit Mishra can still spin a web. At 38 years of age, international cricket probably has bypassed him, but on a ‘gripping’ surface, the leg-spinner showed his value. This was only Mishra’s second match in this year’s IPL and he made a telling contribution.

Rohit Sharma took a little bit of time to get into the groove but once he settled down, the MI captain was playing like a prince. An inside-out lofted drive for six off Kagiso Rabada was magnificent. Pant hurriedly brought on Mishra, inside the Powerplay, to stem the run-flow.

He started off by conceding back-to-back fours to Suryakumar Yadav. But when Mishra came back for his second spell, his dream run began. Rohit jumped out of his crease, but the bowler had held his leg-break back a little. The batsman had to reach out for the ball and skied it to Steve Smith at long-on.

A couple of balls later, a similar delivery accounted for Hardik Pandya. The all-rounder went through his shot, but the wily leggie had beaten him in the air.

A googly trapped Kieron Pollard plumb in front. Mishra wasn’t giving the batsmen any pace to play with and was turning the ball. Suddenly, MI were 84/6 after 12 overs with the cream of their batting back in the hut.

Scores of around 150 have proved to be par at this venue, which the defending champions had defended successfully.

On Tuesday, however, Mishra took out all the MI big hitters and innovators to thwart their death-overs push. Ishan Kishan was playing sensibly, building a partnership with Jayant Yadav and setting himself up nicely for a back-end slog. But he fell prey to Mishra’s pace variation – a faster delivery that almost yorked him. The left-hander jabbed his bat down and played the ball onto his stumps. The veteran spinner finished with 4/24 from four overs.

Before that, at the start of the innings, two champion cricketers cancelled each other out. Honours were even between Rohit and Ravichandran Ashwin until the former stood and delivered a gorgeous six over extra cover to a carrom ball.

Capitals hold their nerve

Dhawan survived a marginal decision on four, in the very first over of Capitals’ chase. Hardik had pulled off a stunner diving forward but the TV umpire adjudged that the ball had touched the ground. Against a modest total, Capitals needed to avoid a collapse. A 53-run second wicket stand between Dhawan (45) and Smith (33) laid the foundation for their victory. The former stayed until the 15th over to ensure that there was no middle-overs muddle.


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