Spinners Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav were inspiring in the center overs, even as Shardul Thakur completed the duo with career-best IPL numbers, while Delhi Capitals moved closer to the play-off qualifiers, beating Punjab Kings by 17 runs in an IPL match on Monday. Invited to bat, DC put in 159 for 7 courtesy of Mitchell Marsh’s 48-ball 63 and then narrowed Punjab to 142 for 9. Thakur (4/36), Axar (2/14) and Kuldeep (2/14) shared eight wickets among them while Anrich Nortje got the important wicket from Jonny Bairstow. It is between overs 6-14 where Delhi won the match as Kuldeep and Axar cumulatively conceded just 28 runs in seven overs with four wickets in between.
With this win, DC jumped one place to fourth with 14 points from 13 games. Royal Challengers Bangalore (14 out of 13 matches) have the same points as DC but they were pushed to fifth place as they have -0.323 NRR compared to +0.255 of Delhi.
Punjab, who remained in seventh place with 12 points from 13 games, are all but out of the game for a spot in the play-offs as they also have a net run rate of -0.043.
Chasing 160 for a win, Punjab suffered a batting collapse after a good start. Jitesh Sharma (44 from 34 balls) and Rahul Chahar (25 not from 24 balls) fought back late with a 41-run tie — highest in their run chase — for the eighth wicket but that proved too little too late.
Punjab started promisingly with Jonny Bairstow in form who penalized Khaleel Ahmed and Nortje with fours and sixes to take his side to 27 for no loss at the end of the third left.
But from there, the collapse started as five Punjab batsmen went back to the hut one after the other, while they were reduced to 5 at the end of the eighth left.
Bairstow (28 from 15 balls) fell to Nortje in the fourth over before a struggling Shrdul Thakur took two wickets – those of Bhanuka Rajapaksa (4) and Shikhar Dhawan (19) – in three balls in the sixth over to change the complexion from the game.
Punjab was 54 for 3 at the end of power play and three balls later, Axar Patel claimed his 100th IPL wicket with a special — that of the scalp of Punjab captain Mayank Agarwal.
Mayank (0), who has struggled this season, went for a cut on an armball but went through the gap between bat and pillow and crashed into the center stump.
There was no respite for Punjab as Liam Livingstone was out in the eighth over, stunned by Rishabh Pant for Kuldeep’s first wicket.
Kuldeep returned for his second over to sack Harpreet Bar (1), defeating the batter incorrectly before going through the fence to crash into the stumps.
By this time it was all over for Punjab as they were reduced to 68 to 6 midway through.
Punjab needed 39 from the last three overs, but David Warner made a nice long range catch to sack Jitesh and ended the game in DC’s favour.
Previously, Arshdeep Singh and Livingstone took three wickets each while Punjab narrowed Delhi to 159 for 7.
Marsh first added 51 runs with Sarfaraz Khan (32) and then 47 more with Lalit Yadav (24), after DC opener David Warner (0) lost to the first pitch of the innings.
DC scored at a brisk pace after being asked to bat, but they suffered a middle-order collapse, losing three quick wickets.
It was Australian Marsh who anchored the DC innings. He completed his fifties with a limit in the 17th over. He hit four fours and three sixes, but had no more partners.
The move to open bowling with Livingstone (3/27) worked as he removed Warner, who gave a sitter to Rahul Chahar on the back end.
Marsh and Sarfaraz then tried to stabilize the ship. Marsh hammered back-to-back sixes off pacer Kagiso Rabada (1/24), including one loft shot as Delhi added 15 runs in the second over.
Sarfaraz was brutal against Orthodox bowler Harpreet Brar (0/29), hammering him for a maximum, a slog sweep and two straight boundaries, while Delhi racked up 15 runs in the third over.
Sarfaraz hammered five limits and a six as Delhi raced over to the 50 run in the fifth. But Sarfaraz’s cameo ended after he mistimed a loft shot from Arshdeep Singh (3/37) as Chahar took a running flyout.
Then Marsh and Lalit mixed caution and aggression. At 86/2 after 10 overs, the stage was set for a big score.
But Punjab put DC back by taking three quick wickets and narrowing the opposition to 112/5.
First, Arshdeep used his slow bouncer to remove Lalit, then Livingstone sent back Rishabh Pant (7), who was stunned by Jitesh Sharma.
Livingstone had his third wicket, when he removed Rovman Powell (2). Wickets continued to fall for Delhi even as Punjab bowlers conceded 43 runs in the last five overs.
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