It was the partnership between Sherfane Rutherford and Axar Patel, which took Delhi Capitals from 141 for 5 after 17 overs to 187 for 5 after 20, that took the game away from Royal Challengers Bangalore, Virat Kohli has said after his team went down by 16 runs.
"Even after losing the toss, the way we bowled was really nice, we showed a lot of character. But then the game got away from us at the end a little bit," he said. "We were thinking 160-165, but 185-plus on that sort of a pitch with three spinners was always going to be tough. But we still showed a lot of character.
"In the crunch moments, I think Delhi played better than us. That's why they got the result they did. But yeah, with the bat we started off really well, PP [Parthiv Patel] was outstanding, then I got going, but then me and AB [de Villiers] getting out to balls that you don't get out to … so, yeah, that's how the game goes sometimes, and those little moments can be big at the end of the game."
We haven't really talked about where we are on the table, just getting as well-prepared and planning as well as we can for the next challengeRICKY PONTING
The result put Capitals in the playoffs, the second team to get there after Chennai Super Kings, and for the first time since 2012. For Royal Challengers, meanwhile, just eight points after 12 matches have left their chances of making the final four hanging by a thread. They are mathematically still in the race, but results - and the stars - must align most improbably for them to get there.
"The important thing now, even in the last two games we've got, is to just go out there and have fun. Remember how we started playing this game and not take too much pressure. Obviously we want to perform as well as we can, but the fun factor should never go away," Kohli said. "We put ourselves under too much pressure in the first six games [all of which they lost] and it's always too much of hard work at the latter half of the tournament, but we've still got two games and we're going to work hard."
At the toss, Capitals took a brave call to bat first, much against the popular trend in IPL 2019, with captain Shreyas Iyer "assuming it will play well in the first half".
Ricky Ponting, the Capitals coach, admitted that the team had "bit the bullet a little bit", and "we've probably done it the hard way tonight, but the boys are really starting to believe in themselves, they are trusting one another, and playing some good cricket. So all in all, we are pretty happy with where we're at".
Capitals, rebranded and refreshed with Iyer as captain and new personnel all around, have got to the top of the table with 16 points from 12 games, and have fixtures against Chennai Super Kings away and Rajasthan Royals at home lined up.
"You want to be peaking at the right time, so for us to bounce back after a five-day break and win tonight was a really good thing," Ponting said. "We go to Chennai now, which is a hard place for anybody to win, so that's a great challenge for us.
"To the boys' credit, we haven't really talked about where we are on the table, just getting as well-prepared and planning as well as we can for the next challenge. So yeah, we've qualified, that's really great, but two big games to go, and the target now will be to finish one or two."