Delhi Capitals 128 for 6 (Warner 57, Pandey 21, Varun 2-16, Rana 2-17, A Roy 2-19) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 127 (J Roy 43, Russell 38*, Axar 2-13, Kuldeep 2-15) by four wickets
Delhi Capitals finally earned their first win of IPL 2023, breaking a five-game losing streak, but it did not come easy. Despite chasing only 128 after their best bowling performance of the season, their batters struggled with Kolkata Knight Riders overloading on spin bowling. If it wasn’t for David Warner‘s fourth fifty of the season and Axar Patel staying on till the end, it could very well have been 0-6 for the hosts.
Even though their batting brought life late into the contest, it was the Capitals bowlers in the first innings who set up the win. Ishant Sharma – playing his first IPL game since May 2021 – took 2 for 19 in four overs, while Anrich Nortje (2 for 20) made batting difficult with his extra pace. Kuldeep Yadav and Axar ran through the middle order by sharing four wickets, while Mukesh Kumar impressed with his new-ball and yorker skills.
They ensured Knight Riders’ batters struggled to put in a cohesive performance yet again. Knight Riders made four changes to their playing XI but except for Jason Roy‘s 43, their batting lacked direction. While their spinners dug deep, the target was too low in the end. They have now lost four games out of six, three on the trot.
Ishant, Nortje, Mukesh sizzle up top
The three pacers took a wicket each in the powerplay. Litton Das, playing his first IPL game, was the first to go trying to pull Mukesh from outside off, and then Venkatesh Iyer fell from the high of a century to the low of a duck when he was caught at slip off a Nortje snorter that was going across the batter.
But the best bowler in the powerplay was Ishant, bowling metronomic lines at a high pace to keep the batters in check. His persistence earned him Nitish Rana‘s wicket when he failed to clear mid-on in the sixth over.
It was a familiar sight for the Knight Riders with another top-order collapse. When Mandeep Singh and Rinku Singh were out to Axar, trying to take the bowler on, the score looked even worse at 64 for 5.
Jason, though, battled on. He wasn’t timing it perfectly despite initially looking fluent, and looked to hold one end up. He saw Sunil Narine holing out next before Andre Russell joined him. They picked up singles for two overs before a 15-run Mitchell Marsh over gave Knight Riders some hope of a strong finish. Ishant, meanwhile, left the field with figures of 4-0-19-2 as Capitals brought in Prithvi Shaw as their Impact Player.
Kuldeep triggers lower-order clean-up
But Jason perished for 43 in the 15th over to Kuldeep. After failing to clear square leg, he looked annoyed at himself for falling that way. Kuldeep looked delighted in equal measure, getting a wicket against his former side.
Next ball, Kuldeep dented Knight Riders further when he had the incoming Impact Player Anukul Roy lbw. That left Knight Riders at 93 for 8, which soon became 96 for 9 with Nortje dismissing Umesh Yadav.
Russell farmed the strike thereafter. He tried to deal only in boundaries but his success rate was low. Mukesh delivered yorker after yorker to frustrate Russell in his penultimate over and Nortje did more of the same. Kuldeep also upped his pace to restrain the big hitter.
The final over started with Knight Riders at 108 for 9, but Mukesh struggled to nail his yorkers. Russell smacked him for a hat-trick of sixes to give Capitals 128 to chase.
Warner stands tall again
As it has been all season, Warner stood at one end while wickets tumbled from the other. Shaw made only 13 while Mitchell Marsh and Phil Salt fell for single digits. That gave Knight Riders a glimmer of hope.
But Warner motored along to get his fourth fifty in six games this season, this one his quickest in 33 balls. The small target allowed him to keep playing his shots, and he had hit 11 fours by the time he raised his bat for the half-century.
He was especially brutal against Narine, hitting him for four fours in one over, while otherwise being more expressive against the seamers. After Salt was the third man gone, Manish Pandey offered an experienced hand alongside Warner and brought the equation to 35 in 42.
Capitals conquer their nerves
However, the equation soon became 35 off 36 when Varun dismissed Warner for 57 and eked out a maiden. Pandey then tried to hit out, but he became Anukul’s second victim when he failed to clear long-on. The atmosphere turned even more nervy when Rana rattled Aman Khan’s stumps next.
But with 15 needed off 18, Capitals remained favourites with four wickets still in the hut. Varun bowled a dream 18th over where Axar just about survived an lbw call and Lalit Yadav escaped a stumping, but the two batters ensured they did not give their wicket away. Rana’s tidy 19th brought the equation to seven off the final over.
Rana would have preferred using spin for the 20th over too, but having exhausted all 16 overs of spin available, he turned to the pacer Kulwant Khejroliya. Axar comfortably negated his challenge to finish the game with four balls to spare.