Having put up 154 for 6 thanks to a late Andre Russell flourish, the Knight Riders might have thought they had a fighting chance to defend that total if they bowled well. However, Shaw took one over to blow that idea to smithereens. Shivam Mavi, who had given up only 13 runs in four overs in the Knight Riders' last game against the Punjab Kings, ended up giving that many off just his first three legal balls this time around. At the end of the first over, Mavi might have thought that the first ball he bowled, a wide down the leg side, was his best one. All the others disappeared for fours, as Shaw went straight, square, wide and imperious.
In one over, Shaw had shaved nearly a run off the required rate - 7.75 to 6.84 - and deflated the Knight Riders completely. He didn't stop there, continuing to pick off boundaries as if he was let loose in an orchard and every boundary was a low-hanging fruit.
His half-century was raised in 18 balls - the quickest of IPL 2021 - with 42 of those runs having come via boundaries. His innings progressed at such pace that every time he didn't score off a ball, it turned into an event. Shaw fell with victory within touching distance while looking to add to his 11 fours and three sixes, getting caught at point for 82 off 41 balls. It was only a momentary victory for the Knight Riders though, with nine needed in 28 balls when Shaw departed. The Capitals duly got to the target in 16.3 overs, joining the Chennai Super Kings and the Royal Challengers Bangalore on ten points at the top of the table.
Starting troubles for the Knight Riders
The Knight Riders have a lot of power in the middle, but their problem has been utilising that effectively, given their rather slow starts. That was in evidence once again, as the top three of Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill and Rahul Tripathi couldn't score quickly. Credit was due to the Capitals' bowlers, who kept things tight, denying room and varying pace so that the batters couldn't line them up. The Knight Riders' top order couldn't really create scoring opportunities through adventurous batting either, which meant the run-rate mostly dawdled.
Gill did end up scoring 43, but he took up 38 balls to do so, and collectively, the top three contributed 77 while consuming 67 deliveries. That left the middle and lower order with a bit too much to do against a quality attack.
It spoke of the Capitals' depth that despite missing Amit Mishra to a shoulder niggle, they still had an attack that posed questions of the batters. Lalit Yadav, who replaced Mishra, returned 2 for 13 in three overs, allowing the Capitals control in a phase where the Knight Riders might have been expected to target them.
Russell blazes at the finish
He didn't begin his innings on his 33rd birthday in typical Russell fashion, having to contend with pinpoint yorkers and well-directed short balls first up.
At one point, Russell was on 7 off 14 balls, but crucially, had got the time to calibrate his batting to the bowling and the pitch before teeing off. The next 13 balls brought a cascade of 38 runs, as the Knight Riders finished on a strong note. Russell ensured 59 runs came off the last five overs, carting Kagiso Rabada and Avesh Khan - who had been good earlier - for sixes and fours.
Shaw kills the chase
After the first over of the chase, there was only one team winning despite the vagaries of T20 cricket. Shaw was in complete command through his innings. He unerringly picked the gaps, and the ball seemed to be drawn to the meatiest part of his bat as if hypnotised. Incredibly enough, he hit his first six when he had already crossed 30 while going at a strike rate of 300-plus. After five overs, he was on 48 off 15 balls, with the Knight Riders' shoulders - and hopes - drooping.
Shikhar Dhawan, himself in fine touch this season, opted to drop anchor and was happy to play second fiddle with Shaw going ballistic at the other end.
Curiously enough, Eoin Morgan didn't introduce Pat Cummins into the attack until the sixth over. Shaw's attack seemed to have robbed the Knight Riders' bowlers of ideas on how to bowl to him, and it didn't help that he was putting away balls in all areas of the boundary.
The Capitals looked like they would steam-roller their way to a ten-wicket win with Shaw on track for a century. But Cummins gave his team some minor cheer by getting Dhawan for 46, and then having Shaw hole out for 82. He added the wicket of Rishabh Pant too, out trying to finish the match in a hurry, but that was only a minor bump in the Capitals' coast to victory.