Capitals make it to play-offs

Capitals make it to play-offs

GOT TO BE KIDDING: RCB skipper Virat Kohli sports a wry smile as Delhi Capitals players celebrate his dismissal in New Delhi on Sunday. PTI

Royal Challengers Bangalore’s ambition of making the Indian Premier League playoffs was all but over following their 16-run defeat to Delhi Capitals at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium on Sunday.

The win made Delhi the second team to qualify for the play-offs with 16 points after the Chennai Super Kings, while RCB, with 8 points, are now dependent on probabilities and luck to make the unlikely cut. This was the first time since 2012 that Delhi have gone beyond the league stage.

Choosing to bat in searing heat, Delhi began with purpose before being boosted by a quick, unbeaten 46-run sixth-wicket stand of Sherfane Rutherford and Axar Patel. With RCB attack unravelling their weakness in the death overs, Delhi closed with formidable 187/5 in 20 overs. In reply, RCB couldn’t capitalise on their bright start and once their top three batsmen were dismissed, their challenge and hopes laid scattered on the greens of Kotla.

Batting at a strike rate of 195, Pathiv Patel provided RCB the ideal start. Runs came briskly for them before Parthiv departed in the last over of the powerplay, which brought 64 runs.

Local boy Virat Kohli was the favourite of the packed crowd which swiftly shifted loyalty to cheer for the RCB captain. Kohli, however, couldn’t stay for long to display his magic. He pulled Axar straight to Rutherford at deep mid-wicket in the eighth over. In the backdrop of a celebrating Delhi team and silent crowd, Kohli paused briefly, flaunting a wry smile of disbelief, before making his way to the dugout.

It now rested on AB de Villiers and Shivam Dube, who was lucky to get a life when on 3. But De Villiers, who had barely got into his innings, was back by the 12th over when he was caught superbly by Axar at the deep-midwicket boundary. In no time, RCB were staring at the barrel at 111/5.

Marcus Stoinis (32 n.o.) kept up the fight till the end but lacked support. With Kagiso Rabada and Ishant Sharma bowling excellent 18th and 19th overs, RCB were left to score 26 in the last over and failed to cross the finish line.

Delhi built their innings on the back of half-centuries by Shikhar Dhawan (50) and Shreyas Iyer (52). Umesh Yadav dismissed a promising Prithvi Shaw in the powerplay, but it didn’t arrest Delhi’s charge.

Dhawan, was in ominous touch. His exhilarating strokeplay and footwork defined his innings. With Iyer providing a solid support at the other end, Delhi dominated the first six overs to sprint to 58/1.

Scoring at fast clip, Dhawan and Shreyas kept Delhi in a good stead during the middle overs. However, Dhawan was guilty of throwing away his wicket at the crucial juncture. He slog-swept a slow and wide delivery from Yuzvendra Chahal, only to be caught in the 13th over. It triggered a mini-collapse with Delhi losing Rishabh Pant and Iyer in successive overs.

When Colin Ingram too perished after a brief flourish, Delhi’s innings appeared to be in shambles. But Rutherford and Axar clobbered the RCB bowling at the death, ensuring 56 runs in the last four overs, and took Delhi past the par-total. RCB paid dearly for it, at the end.