Twenty20 cricket is a blitz. Quick thinking is prized, but at the same time, there is a thin line separating it from impulsive decision-making. In order to thrive in such a high-pressure atmosphere, teams are turning to collective leadership, especially of the kind where an astute backroom leader shepherds a young and ambitious captain.
In the second qualifier between Delhi Capitals and Sunrisers Hyderabad that the former won by 17 runs, such a dynamic came to the fore with Ricky Ponting and Shreyas Iyer.
Coming into the clash, DC had lost five of its last six matches. In three of those, it had batted first after winning the toss, only to concede more than 190 runs and wilt under the pressure. One of those was against SRH when it conceded 219.
In the middle of that wretched run, skipper Shreyas had even conceded that he had misread the pitch on a couple of occasions. The opening combination resembled a revolving door, with Prithvi Shaw and Ajinkya Rahane never really staking claim to partner Shikhar Dhawan.
Against SRH, in a do-or-die game, DC course-corrected with remarkable efficiency. After winning the toss, it batted first. Marcus Stoinis was promoted to the opening slot and he came up with a quickfire 38. Shimron Hetmyer was brought into the XI in place of Shaw and he scored an unbeaten 22-ball 42 to help DC post 189.
Where against Mumbai Indians in the first qualifier, Stoinis had bowled just one over conceding five runs, against SRH he was asked to bowl in the PowerPlay. He repaid the faith by claiming two wickets, including that of Manish Pandey. He then returned later to snare Williamson, who was threatening to win the match for SRH.
The use of Ravichandran Ashwin was intelligent too. In the previous two games against Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians, the off-spinner, after a solitary over in the PowerPlay, was held back. Against RCB, he returned later to consume Virat Kohli, and versus MI he accounted for Quinton de Kock and Kieron Pollard. Against SRH, he bowled the 16th and 18th overs and ensured that Williamson and Abdul Samad wouldn’t run away with the tie.
One may never know how much of this was Ponting’s acumen and how much Shreyas’. But it was a collective effort no doubt.
Brief scores: Delhi Capitals 189 for 3 (Dhawan 78, Hetmyer 42 not out, Stoinis 38) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad 172 for 8 (Williamson 67, Samad 33, Rabada 4-29, Stoinis 3-26) by 17 runs.