Delhi Capitals 161 for 2 (Marsh 89, Warner 52*) beat Rajasthan Royals 160 for 6 (Ashwin 50, Padikkal 48, Sakariya 2-23, Marsh 2-25) by 8 wickets
Delhi Capitals stayed in the mid-table muddle with an important win over Rajasthan Royals that took them to 12 points, two behind the third- and fourth-placed Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore. On a sticky pitch they managed to keep Royals down to a par score of 160. Mitchell Marsh, who also took two wickets, led the chase with 89 off 62, letting David Warner play the anchor role on a night he spent most of his innings around a run a ball.
In the innings break, Marsh said it was a difficult pitch to hit boundaries on if the bowlers bowled into the pitch and used the longer boundary. He said it would need a lot of running ones and twos, but still managed to score 62 of his runs in boundaries, seven of them sixes.
If Capitals could set up for a traditional base for the chase, Royals had to be more funky: they used R Ashwin as pinch anchor, who did score his maiden fifty, but their big hitters Sanju Samson and Riyan Parag couldn't follow it up with a finishing kick.
For the third game in a row, Capitals were without opener Prithvi Shaw, of whom captain Rishabh Pant said at the post-match presentation: "We miss him, but at the same time that is something we can't control because he got typhoid or something like that because doctor told me that. Hopefully he will be back. We don't know it yet."
Buttler's rare failure
Jos Buttler has carried the batting for Royals, a side with a short batting line-up and only one toss won in 12 matches, but he was stifled and then taken out for his lowest score this season and his earliest dismissal. Chetan Sakariya, coming in for the injured Khaleel Ahmed, didn't give him anything to hit away, and when he saw a full ball finally - the fifth of the third over - all he managed was a hit straight to mid-on. Gone for 7 off 11.
The pinch anchor
Seeing there was something in the pitch, Royals promoted Ashwin to No. 3 presumably in a bid to use the powerplay overs without necessarily risking a more indispensable - and limited - batting resource, especially with Shimron Hetmyer missing. Ashwin might have got stuck twice, but on both occasions he came out of the situation. First he responded to a run-a-ball start by hitting Axar Patel for a six and a four in the sixth over. Then he went after Kuldeep Yadav and Sakaria later in the innings to get to a fifty.
He wouldn't ideally have wanted to bat on for this long as he had begun to go after everything in the eighth over, but Yashasvi Jaiswal fell to Marsh in the ninth over, which delayed Ashwin's hit-out-or-get-out charge because you don't want two new batters at the wicket. When Ashwin fell for 50 off 38, he left Samson and Parag 35 balls in which to do damage.
Capitals keep striking
Anrich Nortje and Sakariya, though, bowled two excellent overs at the death to take out Samson and Parag. Samson got too far under the hard length from Nortje, and Parag fell to the back-of-the-hand slower ball from Sakariya. It was in fact Devdutt Padikkal, batting in the unusual No. 4 position, who kept Royals in the game with his 48 off 30, but when Nortje got him out at the start of the 19th, all of Royals' measures to prolong their batting were defeated. Rassie van der dussen and Trent Boult faced the last two overs, and managed just 14.
Royals' fiery start
Royals needed a good start if they were to entertain defending, and they nearly had the perfect one. Boult removed KS Bharat second ball, Prasidh Krishna followed it up with his third maiden of this IPL, and then Boult had a close lbw shout against Marsh turned down. Samson and Boult felt Marsh might have hit it, but replays showed he hadn't.
The Marsh show
Having been reprieved there, Marsh went on to his reprise knock in the T20 World Cup final last year. He backed himself and didn't make much of a four-off-12 start - some of the most difficult bowling Marsh said he has faced in T20 cricket - before he launched into his first six, over extra cover off an Ashwin carrom ball. He picked on Kuldeep Sen with two straight sixes in the seventh over. Warner was still only 12 off 12, but Marsh had raced away to 39 off 28.
Some good fortune came Warner's way too as he sliced one to long-off off Yuzvendra Chahal but Buttler couldn't quite get there and then the bail refused to fall when Chahal hit his leg stump. If it was stutters for Warner, it was smooth acceleration for Marsh.
The highest the asking rate was allowed to reach was 9.4 with five overs to go, but then Marsh ended Ashwin's night with a six and a four to give him figures of 4-0-32-2, exactly what they were left needing in the last four overs. Marsh fell 11 short of a hundred, but Pant brought about a swift end with two sixes in four balls. Warner ended with 49 off 40.