Delhi Daredevils player Karun Nair plays a shot during match 52 of the Vivo Indian Premier League ( IPL ) between the Delhi Daredevils and the the Sunrisers Hyderabad held at the Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Cricket Stadium, Naya Raipur, India on the 20th May 2016
Photo by Vipin Pawar / IPL/ SPORTZPICS
Karun Nair showed there was place for finesse and street-smart cricket amid the big-hitting in T20s. His unbeaten 59-ball 83 single-handedly helped Delhi Daredevils beat Sunrisers Hyderabad by six wickets in a last-ball thriller in Raipur to keep their playoff ambitions burning bright. The side must now win their final match against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Raipur on Sunday.
With Daredevils needing six off two deliveries, Nair, who had walked in to bat at No. 3, muscled successive boundaries off Bhuvneshwar Kumar to pull off a win that may have not been possible had Sunrisers fielded better than they did. Nair, who was sedate initially, was lucky to survive a caught-behind appeal on 23 in the ninth over, with Daredevils needing 105 off 69. David Warner then put down a sitter when the batsman was on 51. As it turned out, those two moments had a significant bearing on the outcome and Sunrisers, with 16 points, may yet have to win their final league game against Kolkata Knight Riders in Kolkata to control their fate.
While Rishabh Pant was the aggressor in the 73-run second-wicket stand, Nair was happy to farm strike and play himself in before the stroke of luck with the caught-behind appeal brought about a change in mindset. By the time Pant was run out for 32, courtesy Bhuvneshwar’s direct hit from deep cover, Nair had switched gears. It meant Warner’s wonderfully crafted 56-ball 73 was consigned to being second-best.
The game started off as a battle of wits. Sunrisers were watchful upfront against Zaheer Khan after being sent in to bat, but the pressure built up at one end was released by offspinner Jayant Yadav and Nathan Coulter-Nile, who leaked runs. Sunrisers motored to 42 without loss in five overs, before the brakes were applied through two run-outs.
Shikhar Dhawan, far from his fluent best, was the first to go. Carlos Brathwaite, who replaced the injured Chris Morris, stopped a drive by diving to his left and then hurled a throw back at the striker’s end with Dhawan well short of the crease. Four balls later, Amit Mishra’s half-stop off his own bowling resulted in confusion between Warner and Deepak Hooda, and a direct hit at the bowler’s end found Hooda short. With the score at 48 for 2 in the seventh over, the need of the hour was consolidation.
Yuvraj Singh hung around for 10 deliveries, one of which was sent screaming behind point off a fierce cut, before Coulter-Nile had him chop one onto the stumps, the two-paced nature of the pitch surfacing as the ball kept low to take the inside-edge. Even as wickets tumbled, Warner was a picture of supreme confidence, flaying pacers with flat-batted pulls and slaps through the off side.
His technique against the spinners – Mishra and Yadav – was equally effective as he used the depth of the crease to make room and bring his bottom hand into play. Once the off side field opened up, he kept carving boundaries to make batting look ridiculously easy. Warner brought up his half-century off 40 balls and his 32nd IPL fifty helped notch up a record for most fifty-plus scores by a batsman in the tournament.
He found able support from Moises Henriques, who milked the singles, and a 13-run over seemed to indicate that Sunrisers were ready to switch to attack. However, an attempt to hit with the spin towards deep midwicket off JP Duminy in the 14th over resulted in Henriques’ wicket, and ended a sprightly 39-run stand.
Eoin Morgan’s wicket drained more momentum and it took an enterprising partnership between Naman Ojha and Bhuvneshwar Kumar – the pair added 26 off 15 balls in the last three overs – to take them close to the 160-mark.
Daredevils lost Quinton de Kock early, but Nair and Pant kept pace with the asking rate through tactful strike-rotation and the odd boundary. Apart from swatting away full tosses, Nair’s use of the sweep shot to negate Karn Sharma’s legspin was impressive.
With Daredevils needing 52 off 30, Sunrisers had a ray of hope in the two potential overs from Mustafizur Rahman. When Duminy, put down on 17 by Bhuvneshwar, holed out to Warner off the first ball bowled by Barinder Sran in the 17th over, the game was wide open. But Nair muscled two sixes in the over to allay fears of a meltdown.
Mustafizur’s tight last over – he gave away five runs – left Daredevils needing 11 off the last six balls, but Nair was not to be denied as his third half-century in a winning cause this season kept Daredevils alive.
2015 Kashmir Despatch