Delhi Daredevils knew they had to beat Sunrisers Hyderabad to stay alive in the competition. It was a tough ask since Sunrisers are one of the toughest teams in the competition. But, Delhi, aware of the do-or-die nature of the contest at Raipur, raised their game, and did enough to keep Sunrisers at bay for the match. Not only did Delhi stay alive, the defeat now means that Sunrisers will have to win their last match to ensure qualification without any complication. Delhi were better on the day with both bat and ball, restricting Sunrisers batting attack first, and then chasing down the target off the last ball.
Undoubtedly, Karun Nair was the star of the show. Delhi were under pressure chasing a reasonable target, and needed someone to stand up and anchor the chase. Nair hasn't been in the best form this season, but on Friday, he stood up and delivered. Delhi were under definite pressure when he walked into bat, with the big man de Kock gone early. But, Nair kept his head under tense situations, and kept getting the boundaries at key moments, including at the end when things got extremely tight. When not doing so, he was getting the singles and two to ensure the run rate did not spiral out of control.
Nair's second-wicket partnership with Rishabh Pant was key in that it allowed Delhi to stay on course with the run-rate. Pant, who has played some attacking knocks in the tournament, once again played a key role, although it was only a cameo. His dismissal against the run of play brought Sunrisers back into the game. But, their inability to get rid of Nair hurt them in the end. Although JP Duminy and Carlos Braithwaite did not have a lot to do, they got a couple of crucial boundaries at key moments in the game. And, those also made a difference in the end.
Sunrisers could have done better had they fielded well. But, it was an off day for them. A big moment came when the fielding side's skipper David Warner dropped a sitter offered by Nair when he had just crossed his fifty. Had Warner taken that offering, things might have been different. As it turned out, Nair made them pay heavily. Their impressive bowling also wasn't up to the mark on the day. Bhuvneshwar Kumar went wicketless, and Barinder Sran leaked boundaries although he got wickets. Again, Mustafizur Rahman kept things tight, but his effort wasn't enough.
More than the bowlers, it were the batsmen who let the Sunrisers down on the day. Warner, as he has been throughout this IPL, continued in his smashing form. But, Shikhar Dhawan had an off day, and his run-out was symbolic of the poor day for Sunrisers. Deepak Hooda was also run out while Yuvraj Singh, Eoin Morgan and Moises Henriques all fell without making much of a contribution. For Delhi, Braithwaite stood out with the ball, with his efforts of 2 for 27 even as Zaheer Khan kept things tight. It was a complete effort by Delhi, which has kept them alive and kicking in IPL 9.
--By A Cricket Analyst