The intensity and the competitive nature of any tournament could be described as high quality if the teams are fighting for results even in the last match of the group stage. The Royal Challengers of Bangalore were taking on the Delhi Daredevils in the last match of the group stage of IPL 9 to determine the 4th and the last entrant into the playoffs. It was a virtual quarterfinal as the winner gets the entry to the deciders while the losers get out of the competition.
Looking at the recent form, the RCB lead by the superman Virat Kohli looked firm favorites to take the match but the way Delhi Daredevils have played this season they could not be called the underdogs. It was a match between two strong teams, one relying heavily on batting while the other banking on their bowlers.
The match finally belonged to the RCB, but was no way near to how it was imagined to be.
RCB won the toss and invited DD to bat. It was half a battle won as chasing has been the stronger part for RCB. Delhi opened with Quinton DeKock and Rishabh Pant. Dekock started well from one end but Pant walked back off the 2nd ball he played. Hero of the last match, Karun Nair joined Dekock and steadied the innings. Karun was looking good just when he perished to an almost impossible looking catch from Virat Kohli.
Karun had lifted Chahal over his head and the ball was timed well to go for a one bounce four, but Kohli had different ideas. He ran backwards at full stretch and caught the ball a few meters inside the ropes to a rousing reception from the crowd. Sanju Samson came at No. 4 and started confidently. He was looking good as he hit a huge straight six and a four to leggie Chahal but had to walk back after his attempted late cut went straight into the keeper’s gloves.
The innings was going in the right direction with the partnerships of 31 and 29 between DeKock and Nair and then DeKock and Samson respectively but the wicket of Samson derailed the Delhi innings completely.
Quinton was getting neither the boundaries nor the support from the other end. Next batsmen Sam Billings and Pawan Negi failed to rotate the strike and lost their wickets as well after wasting a few deliveries. Brathwaite was expected to launch a few but he too was out 2nd ball. This put too much pressure on DeKock who finally got out in search of quick runs. Savior of the Daredevils this season, Chris Morris was again at it as he scored a valiant 27 off just 18 balls to push the DD score to 138 for 8 in their 20 overs.
RCB was really happy to restrict the Daredevils to a score which was way below par and looking at the batting might of RCB, too small to defend.
Delhi Daredevils fighting spirit has been the hallmark of their performance this season and it came to the fore again as refused to give up easily.
Daredevils came hard at the RCB and got rid of the dangerous Gayle and Devilliers in no time. They pegged RCB back at 17 for 2 in the 3rd over but thanks to the man again, Virat Kohli, who stood there again until the job was done. Delhi bowled well and did not give away easy runs. KL Rahul set up the victory with Kohli with a partnership of 66 runs for the 3rd wicket. Delhi though kept trying to fight back with wickets of Rahul and Shane Watson but the score was too short to defend as RCB finally crossed the line in the 19th over with Virat again amongst the runs with an unbeaten 54 off 45 balls.
Delhi are out of it fighting but would rue the chances they missed. Had they not experimented in the middle stages where they unexpectedly lost to KXIP and RPS in consecutive matches, the story would have been different. RCB on the other hand jumped straight to the 2nd spot due to a higher run rate to have the luxury of 2 shots at the title.