Delhi Capitals 196 for 4 (Stoinis 53*, Siraj 2-34) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 137 for 9 (43, Rabada 4-24) by 59 runs
Just when the Royal Challengers Bangalore were started to think they were getting their combinations and players' roles right this IPL, they were beaten comprehensively by the Delhi Capitals, one of the most balanced sides who lead the points table with four wins out of five games. After posting a challenging 196 with the help of their openers and Marcus Stoinis' unbeaten 53 off 26, the Capitals' well-oiled bowling attack strangled the Royal Challengers chase with precise and economical bowling that led to regular wickets.
Virat Kohli tried stretching the chase even as the asking rate surged after the fall of Devdutt Padikkal, Aaron Finch and AB de Villiers inside the powerplay. Pace sensation Kagiso Rabada then returned for his second over - the 14th of the chase - to have his opposition captain caught behind. The Royal Challengers needed a stiff 100 from 36 balls at the end of the over, and the required rate headed only in one direction as Rabada closed the chase out with figures of 4 for 24 - the best of this tournament - after being on a hat-trick in the 18th over.
Capitals' skillful bowling attack
A silver lining of Amit Mishra being out of the tournament was that the Capitals could bring their economical bowler Axar Patel back. After his first ball was driven beautifully for four by Kohli, Patel extracted turn to beat his outside edge two balls later, and slowed down the ball further on the last ball to have Finch caught behind for a scratchy 13.
This, after Finch had been warned by R Ashwin while backing up too far at the non-striker's end in the previous over.
Some more drama was left for the sixth over when de Villiers sent Kohli back for a quick single after pushing the ball to mid-on but Rabada couldn't get a direct hit. Next ball de Villiers whipped Anrich Nortje over mid-off with his supple wrists but the quick bowler replied immediately with his compatriots' wicket as de Villiers top-edged a 150km delivery that Shikhar Dhawan pouched while running backwards from extra cover.
Rabada had earlier conceded only five in the first over and put down a simple return catch of Finch, but the Capitals have clear plans for the pace spearhead: keep at least two of his overs for the end. That the boundaries dried up for over five overs after the seventh, with Patel taking the pace off and Ashwin mixing up his offbreaks with carrom balls and flatter deliveries, only helped Rabada 's second over. The scoreboard pressure meant Moeen Ali holed out off Patel to deep midwicket for 11 off 13 and Rabada had his eyes on one man.
With 106 to get from 42, the onus was on Kohli and he took on a Rabada short ball but only edged it behind for 43. Five down for 94, the Royal Challengers weren't going to recover from that against Rabada and Nortje, who kept breaching the 150kmh mark. Birthday boy Washington Sundar impressed briefly with some off-side strokes off Rabada before being deceived by a slower bouncer, and Shivam Dube soon missed a slog to lose his stumps.
Capitals' best powerplay this IPL
Earlier, the Capitals openers Prithvi Shaw and Dhawan put up their best powerplay of the season, of 63, after being put in to bat. Shaw started by targeting the quicker bowlers and Dhawan, who normally drops anchor, attacked as well, going after Navdeep Saini and Yuzvendra Chahal. As soon as Chahal came on in the fifth over, the Capitals openers collected 18 off him to make Kohli change his plans.
The Royal Challengers bowler who stood out yet again in the powerplay was Sundar. He sent down three in the first six, stifled the openers with his angle from wide of the crease from around the wicket, and conceded only one four in that phase before finishing on 0 for 20 for the second game in a row.
The Stoinis show again
The Capitals innings was fizzling out after the powerplay. With the field spread and accurate bowling from Mohammad Siraj - who came into the XI with Ali - the boundaries started drying up. Shaw was the first wicket to fall as he edged Siraj behind, followed by Dhawan holing out to long-on and Shreyas Iyer to deep midwicket where Padikkal completed a fantastic hop-out-and-back-in catch. The focus was now on Rishabh Pant and Stoinis to rebuild and accelerate from 90 for 3 in the 12th over.
Stoinis came out at No. 5 and didn't waste any time to settle in, even as Pant was kept quiet by the bowlers. Stoinis was also helped by the three chances he got - a return catch that slipped through Chahal's hands on 3 in 13th over, another chance put down by Chahal at deep midwicket off Saini on 30, and a run-out chance missed when Pant said no for a second run and Stoinis, on 45, had given up at the non-striker's end after turning back but an inaccurate throw saved him.
The Royal Challengers paid the price for all this. Stoinis not only cashed in when the bowlers erred with full or short deliveries but also shuffled across to the off side to whip and dispatch the ball to the leg side, especially when fine leg was in the 30-yard circle. His and Pant's assault at the end meant the Capitals collected under 10 runs in only one of the last seven overs, with 94 runs coming off those 42 balls. Stoinis was particularly brutal against Saini and Siraj, by targeting the straight and leg-side boundaries.
His 24-ball fifty and Saini's 0 for 48 off three overs meant the Capitals got a total that was too much for the Royal Challengers.