Bhatia strangles Delhi effort with neat bowling display
Rajat Bhatia struck twice in his economical spell - that yielded just 22 runs - to help Pune beat Delhi by seven wickets in the Indian Twenty20 competition in Delhi on Thursday.
MS Dhoni, Pune's captain, won the toss and opted to bowl first and his bowlers restricted their opponents to just 162, in their innings, after slowing them down in the middle overs by taking regular wickets.
Delhi's batsmen, barring Rishabh Pant, got starts, but failed to capitalize thereafter. JP Duminy, the stand-in captain, top-scored for the hosts with a 32-ball 34. Bhatia - who was introduced in to the attack in the eighth over - stifled the scoring rate from the onset.
The medium pacer used a mix of slower balls and cutters to keep the batsmen guessing as they looked to inject momentum into their innings. Bhatia conceded just five runs in his first over, six in his second and third over and five in his final over.
Bhatia's neat display prompted the batsmen to target bowlers at the other end, thus prompting mistakes. In all, Bhatia accounted for six dot balls in his spell, which yielded no boundaries.
Pune's batsmen - who have struggled in the competition so far - impressed against Delhi, as Ajinkya Rahane and new signing, Usman Khwaja, added a 59-run opening partnership. Rahane batted in his usual risk-free and unruffled fashion and he was hardly troubled by Duminy and Carlos Brathwaite in a second-wicket partnership of 45 with Saurabh Tiwary.
The platform laid by Pune's top order set the stage for a flourish in the end. Pune required 57 from the last six overs and looked to Dhoni for late fireworks. The captain and later Thisara Perera didn't disappoint, and Pune completed the chase with five balls to spare.
"The bowlers were bowling to the plan. It felt nice to restrict them to 160. We can take a lot of positives, because it was the bowling we were a little worried about," Dhoni said.
"The execution was much better, they bowled to the field. If you keep the death overs aside, you have to bowl to the field. In the death overs, I feel the good bowlers are those who double-bluff the batsmen. It was a bit uncomfortable in the middle, their spinners bowled well, the wicket got slightly slower, Mishra bowled well, Tahir bowled well, overall it was a well-earned victory for us. When you have lost five games, it's important to take whatever comes your way. This victory was very much needed, gives us that bit of confidence."