Mitchell Marsh scored a masterful 49-ball 63 while Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav shared four wickets between themselves and Shardul Thakur picked his career-best IPL figures of 4/36 as Delhi Capitals defeated Punjab Kings by 17 runs at the D.Y Patil Stadium on Monday. After Marsh carried Delhi to 159/7, despite two three-wicket hauls for Arshdeep Singh and Liam Livingstone, Thakur, Axar and Kuldeep triggered a collapse on a slow and low pitch which saw Punjab lose six wickets before reaching the half-way mark of the chase. Though Jitesh Sharma tried his best with a 34-ball 44, Punjab could make only 142/9 in their 20 overs. This marks Delhi winning two matches in a row for the first time in the tournament and doing the double on Punjab. With their tally in the points table on 14 points, Delhi have also managed to displace Royal Challengers Bangalore from fourth place on net run rate. In pursuit of 159, Punjab hit five fours and a six in the first four overs.
But Anrich Nortje responded by bouncing out Jonny Bairstow. Thakur opened the floodgates for Delhi when he removed Bhanuka Rajapaksa and then Shikhar Dhawan on the last ball of the powerplay. While Rajapaksa's cross-bat swipe went to backward point, Dhawan was cramped for room, giving a healthy edge behind to Pant. Post-powerplay, Axar grabbed his 100th IPL wicket with a length ball around off-stump skidding into castle Mayank Agarwal through the gate. Livingstone danced down the pitch to dispatch Kuldeep over long-on. But he completely missed the googly and was easily stumped by Pant. Kuldeep's wrong-un beat Harpreet Brar's inside edge on defence to bowl him through the gate while Rishi Dhawan missed his sweep on an arm-ball from Axar and the ball straightened after pitching to hit top of off-stump. Jitesh, who earlier survived a run-out chance, waged a lone battle with the bat, swatting Nortje, Ahmed and Thakur for boundaries. Giving him good support was Rahul Chahar, who smacked Ahmed for a four and six. With 39 needed off 18 balls, Rovman Powell produced a moment of brilliance by leaping to his left and throwing the ball back to the field before losing his momentum backwards, saving five runs.
Four balls later, Thakur broke the 41-run stand as Sharma couldn't get the needed elevation on knuckleball outside the off-stump and was caught by Warner running in from long-off. Though Kagiso Rabada muscled him for a pulled six over deep mid-wicket, Thakur had the last laugh as the South African holed out to long-off, making it easy for Delhi to close out a victory. Earlier, David Warner taking strike at the last moment against Livingstone backfired spectacularly as he slashed hard at a length ball outside the off-stump, which bounced and held a little, taking a thick edge to backward point. Marsh began from where he left off in his 89 against Rajasthan Royals, lofting down the ground and flicking over deep mid-wicket for taking consecutive sixes off Rabada. Sarfaraz Khan stepped up to play a sizzling cameo of 32 off 16 balls, taking the attack to Harpreet and Rishi for hitting five fours and a six, with the scoop being the standout. But Arshdeep ended Sarfaraz's entertaining stay with a slower ball which the batter completely mistimed to mid-on.
The left-arm pacer could have got Lalit Yadav out for a first-ball duck if he had not overstepped at the crease. From there, Marsh and Lalit shared a 47-run stand off 38 balls for the third wicket. Arshdeep finally made amends by taking out Lalit with a slower bouncer which he ramped straight to backward point. Livingston came back in the 12th over to deceive Pant with a wide delivery, which the left-hander responded by dancing down the pitch, only to be stumped. The wide outside off-stump fetched another wicket for Livingstone when Rovman Powell tried to clear long-on but the thick outer edge went to long-off. With Livingstone ending his spell, Marsh began to bring out his counter-attacking self, raising his fifty with a slap through the covers off Brar, followed by another four between long-on and deep mid-wicket. Marsh slammed three boundaries off Arshdeep in the 18th over - two through leg-side and one bouncing past long-off. But his knock ended when his attempted pick-up shot was pouched by deep mid-wicket running in. Punjab gave away just ten runs in the last two overs to get momentum in their favour at the innings break, which was inadequate to seal a win.
Brief Scores: Delhi Capitals 159/7 (Mitchell Marsh 63, Sarfaraz Khan 32; Liam Livingstone 3/27, Arshdeep Singh 3/37) beat Punjab Kings 142/9 in 20 overs (Jitesh Sharma 44; Jonny Bairstow 28; Shardul Thakur 4/36, Axar Patel 2/14) by 17 runs