Karun Nair finally ended a lengthy lean patch and starred with the bat, while Zaheer Khan and Mohammed Shami put on a brilliant display of bowling as Delhi Daredevils edged out Rising Pune Supergiant by seven runs for a consolation win on Friday (May 13).
Prior to Delhi’s penultimate league match, Karun Nair had scored just 191 runs in 12 games. Despite his prolonged lean patch, Nair had the backing of the team management, and even led the side in three matches in the absence of injured Zaheer, the regular captain. He repaid the management’s faith with a 64 off 45 balls that led Delhi to 168 for 8 at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.
“The support from the franchise has been great,” Nair later told iplt20.com. “We’ve been thinking about ending the tournament on a good note and winning some games. We owe it the franchise.
“Personally, Rahul sir has been a great inspiration for me, it’s my fourth year in IPL with him. I’m grateful for the support that I’ve received from him, even during the first half of the tournament, when I wasn’t doing too well.. he’s backed me throughout.”
Opting to bat first, Delhi didn’t have the best of starts, losing both Sanju Samson and Shreyas Iyer early, but Delhi rode on Nair’s half-century, coupled with a good hand from Rishabh Pant (36 off 22 balls). Even as Pune’s bowlers chipped away, Nair paced his innings to perfection and stuck around till the penultimate over.
“I think at the start we lost a couple of wickets very easily. For me the simple thing was to play out the 20 overs,” he said “I wasn’t thinking of accelerating the score that much at that point, I just wanted to play normal game, and others around me will go after the bowling.”
Despite a wobbly start, and losing mainstays of their line-up, Pune’s chase was on track with Manoj Tiwary leading the charge with his 45-ball 60. Pune were still in the hunt with MS Dhoni at the crease, but he was run out in the 18th over, thanks to Mohammed Shami’s brilliant direct-hit.
Tiwary took the blame upon himself for not carrying Pune across the finish line, and also pointed out that Dhoni’s run-out proved to be the turning point of the game.
“I want to take the complete blame for that because I was the batsman who was set,” said Tiwary. “Prior to the last over we couldn’t get any boundaries at that point of time and I was the man who was on strike and was not able to connect.
“Obviously, the match was in our hands at one point of time, that’s the way it happens at times. “
Tiwary mentioned that Dhoni couldn’t initially spot the ball and by the time he could react, Shami’s throw caught him short of his crease. “He couldn’t see the ball where it went and that’s the reason he couldn’t make it because ball went behind so he wasn’t aware where the ball went. But it happens, the quickest of persons also gets run out and today was an example,” he said.
“You must give credit to Shami as well because he took that risk of throwing and taking that chance because if that ball wouldn’t have hit the stumps (then) it would have been one extra run.”
A win against Delhi would have guaranteed Pune a spot in the play-offs, but now their final league game, against Kings XI Punjab at home, could become a knockout match if Sunrisers Hyderabad beat Gujarat Lions on Saturday. “We tried our best but we have to go back now and see what went wrong and how the batsmen could have scored more runs, find out what kind of strokes we could have played at that situation and come back harder in the next game,” said Tiwary. “It’s going to be a pressure game because both the teams want to win and let’s see who comes best in that game.”