RESULT
64th Match (N), DY Patil, May 16, 2022, Indian Premier League
(20 ov, T:160) 142/9

Capitals won by 17 runs

Report

Marsh, Thakur, spin duo lift Capitals to fourth spot

Kuldeep, Axar share four wickets; Punjab Kings need a miracle to make the playoffs

Alagappan Muthu
Alagappan Muthu
16-May-2022
Shardul Thakur had two double-wicket overs, Delhi Capitals vs Punjab Kings, IPL 2022, DY Patil Stadium, Mumbai, May 16, 2022

Shardul Thakur had two double-wicket overs  •  BCCI

Delhi Capitals 159 for 7 (Marsh 63, Sarfaraz 32, Livingstone 3-27) beat Punjab Kings 142 for 9 (Jitesh 44, Thakur 4-36, Axar 2-14, Kuldeep 2-14) by 17 runs
Mitchell Marsh produced a masterful half-century in severely difficult conditions for run-scoring. He was so good in judging when and whom to attack, to the point that this win - which lifts Delhi Capitals to fourth spot - may as well have been built on his restraint as it was on his big hits.
Meanwhile, Punjab Kings, for all of the bravery that Jitesh Sharma (44 off 34) showed in a chase of 160, have now lost seven of their 13 games and are pretty much out of the tournament. Only a miracle can take them into the playoffs.
The part-timer
Liam Livingstone is a fearsome six-hitter. So he more than most knows which balls can be hit into orbit, and which can't be. That little bit of insight becomes his greatest strength when he indulges in his second skill. Right-arm all-sorts.
David Warner, who insisted on taking first strike only after seeing Livingstone coming on to bowl, was caught at point first ball.
Rishabh Pant was stumped right after he hit a six.
Both of those dismissals involved Livingstone understanding the fact that a power-hitter's best asset is a strong base. Deny that by hiding the ball out of their reach and your chances of success increase.
Normally that is a tactic to restrict runs. Here it became wicket-taking because a) ego - Capitals just couldn't resist taking Livingstone down and b) the pitch was slow and low so powering the ball away like they were all trying to do wasn't really an option.
The big hitter
Marsh was 32 off 26 at the halfway stage. When someone of his quality is tied down like that, you know the pitch isn't great for scoring.
So he decided to play the long game. To bide his time. To wait for the death overs which often tend to be a bit of a lottery. Edges go for sixes. Bowlers panic and miss their lengths.
He came into the 17th over on 47 off 37. At the end of the 18th, he was 63 off 46. These were exactly the wrong conditions for him - the ball barely bouncing, or coming onto the bat - but he played it really well.
Marsh barely even tried hitting the spinners. Instead, he focused all of his aggression where it could actually pay off. On Arshdeep Singh (19 off 8, SR 237.50) and Kagiso Rabada (16 off 9, SR 177.77).
It was beautiful, calculated, gutsy batting and as a result Capitals, who were 112 for 5 in the 14th over, got up to 159 for 7.
Honourable mention: back in the powerplay, Sarfaraz Khan played a little gem of 32 off 16 balls replete with several of the most audacious shots including a dilscoop to the third-man boundary. Coming into the game in place of Prithvi Shaw, who had only recently recovered from typhoid fever, his early impetus allowed Marsh the luxury of never having to feel dot-ball pressure.
Game over
For a man who had so much success baiting big hitters into his trap, Livingstone fell into one hook, line and sinker.
In the eighth over, when the game was on his shoulders after the openers and the captain had fallen, he charged down the track to perhaps the Capitals' best bowler - Kuldeep Yadav - and was completely done in by the googly.
At the fall of Livingstone's wicket, ESPNcricinfo's forecaster gave Kings an 18% chance of winning the game. Just one ball before that, it was 46%.
Axar Patel's (4-0-14-2) relentlessly accurate left-arm spin made matters even worse as Kings crumbled from 53 for 1 to 82 for 7. But they didn't give up. Jitesh wouldn't let them. He prides himself on his ability to finish games. He says it's a skill that doesn't come to everyone and he says he's got it. He kept a dead game alive all on his own, and with 39 to win off the last 18 balls anything was possible.
Shardul Thakur (4-36) came on and put an end to the fairy tale, one of his special slower balls finally breaking Jitesh's spirit. The Capitals seamer had paved the way to victory by dismissing both Shikhar Dhawan and Bhanuka Rajapaksa in his first over of the day. It was rather fitting that he took the wicket that sealed the game too.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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