Arun Venugopal is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
JP Duminy is among the first to emerge from the Delhi Daredevils dug-out during the innings break. He goes up to the practice wicket and fires away darts from round the stumps. Duminy has probably done enough with the bat already: coming in at No. 3, he has scored 54 off 41 deliveries to push his team's total to 167. But Duminy thinks there is more to be done. He is proved right.
With two left-handed openers in David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan, Duminy waits for only as long as the second over to deploy himself. He also shuffles his bowling pack niftily, using four of them in six overs. Sunrisers Hyderabad have by then zoomed to 50 with all their wickets intact.
Duminy brings himself back. The first ball goes with the arm. The result is Dhawan's dislodged bails. Two balls later, Duminy dives to his right and springs up with the ball, and a cry of delight. He has sent back his opposite number, Warner. This is more Duminy the captain at work than Duminy the bowler. Spreading the field out on the leg side, he had handed out the invite for an easy single or two. Duminy then seals the deal with a generously flighted delivery. Warner twirls his bat too early. Leading edge. End of story.
Time for bowler Duminy to recede into the background. Time for leader Duminy to front up. He is chattier than usual, but isn't animated. Another round of bowling shuffle ensues. Three spinners - Imran Tahir, Amit Mishra and Yuvraj Singh - are pressed into action. Meanwhile, KL Rahul and Ravi Bopara have rebuilt smartly, and are looking to amp up the scoring.
Duminy recalls Angelo Mathews, who went for 12 runs in his first over. Rahul jumps out of his crease and mistimes his stroke. Ball gets plenty of hang time. Domnic Muthuswami comes underneath the ball nervously from mid-off, and spills it. Duminy doesn't say anything. Next ball, Rahul flits across his stumps, a tad too much, and Mathews hits the stumps. Duminy waits till the end of the over, and goes up to Muthuswami and has a quiet word, probably about the drop. Hands-on but not overbearing.
The chase, however, is hotting up. Bopara has woken up from his slumber and is tonking them all. Tahir sends back Naman Ojha just before the strategic timeout. Duminy has a hand in this, too, hurling himself forward from point to take the catch. 48 required off 24 balls. Duminy returns with the ball after the interval. Bopara is in no mood for pleasantries and whacks the first ball over long-off for six.
Duminy is probably seeing parallels of his own innings here: conservative beginning, gradual gear-shifting and then a sprint in the home stretch. Maybe he also remembers he has carved up Bopara for two fours in the slog overs - including one that nearly rammed into the bowler's knee - and a six. He didn't spare Dale Steyn either, slapping a shortish delivery over long-on for six. But Duminy is in no mood for return gifts here and bowls one full and wide. Bopara pursues the lofted shot but is caught at long-off.
There is still Eoin Morgan to contend with. No problem, says Duminy as he goes round the wicket. Morgan backs away, is late on his shot, and once again Duminy has found the stumps. Surely, he has done enough now? Not yet, as Karn Sharma and Ashish Reddy lay into Tahir and Mathews.
Ten needed off six now. Duminy has saved up Nathan Coulter-Nile, Daredevils' most effective pacer, for this. There are suggestions coming in from everywhere. Yuvraj joins in, so does Mathews. Even Mayank Agarwal is gesticulating excitedly from the deep. Duminy puts the lid on the panic state and gets back to his fielding post.
Coulter-Nile begins well; after two quiet deliveries and Reddy's run-out, seven runs are needed off two. Karn almost clears the boundary, but Agarwal smartly palms the ball away even as the momentum takes him past the fence at deep midwicket. Another round of meeting ensues, as five are needed off the last ball. Duminy speaks what looks like no more than two crisp sentences. Full and wide again, and Sharma holes out to long off.
Fifty-four runs, four crucial wickets at less than six an over and some proactive captaincy. That's the stuff team owners and fantasy-league addicts dream of. Duminy calls the impact he has had on the match a "blessed thing". Daredevils now have two wins in a row. Rest assured the streak will extend if Duminy has more such blessed days at the office.
Daredevils vs Sunrisers
Pepsi Indian Premier League