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News

Pant explains decision to bowl first: 'We thought there will be a bit of dew, which did not come'

Delhi Capitals captain admits his team was playing catch-up right from the powerplay

When Delhi Capitals opted to bowl in their first match of IPL 2024 at the Arun Jaitley Stadium, they expected dew to play a role later in the evening. Which would have meant a target of around 220 also gettable. But the absence of dew in the chase helped Sunrisers Hyderabad, who got the balls to grip on the surface, register a 67-run win to move to second on the points table.
"The only thought process behind [opting to bowl at the toss] was we thought there will be a bit of dew, which did not come," Rishabh Pant, Capitals captain, said at the post-match presentation. "If we could have restricted them to 220-230 we still had a chance. [The ball] stopped more [on the surface] in the second innings than what we anticipated. But when you have 260-270 to defend, it gives bowlers confidence."
Sunrisers once again rode on the brilliant power-hitting display of openers Travis Head and Abhishek Sharma, who helped them score a record 125 for 0 in the powerplay, the highest in all men's T20s. Abhishek fell for a 12-ball 46 while Head made 89 off 32 after his maiden IPL century in the last outing as Sunrisers posted 266 for 7, their third 250-plus total in IPL 2024.
"I think powerplay was one of the differences," Pant admitted. "They got 120-130 runs in the powerplay and we were catching up throughout the match."
Pat Cummins, the SRH captain, had mixed feelings watching his openers bludgeon the opposition. "Part of me is very excited and elated, but the other thinks I will have to bowl on this later," he said. "Amazing, every game they keep delivering and keep playing the way we want to."
The game saw 213 runs being scored in the powerplay, both innings combined, again a record in T20 cricket. Capitals romped to 88 for 2 in their chase of 267 and Cummins said that the pitch came into play once the ball became old.
"We saw in the powerplay, there was not much in it for the bowlers for both sides," he said. "Once the game got on, the ball got softer and it started to hold a little bit. But 260-odd plays 200 [means it] is a good batting wicket.
"Normally dew makes it hard [to grip the ball]. It slides on. But there was a little bit of grip out there, so maybe that was a factor also."
T Natarajan led Sunrisers' charge with the ball, picking up 4 for 19, his best figures in T20s. Mayank Markande and Nitish Kumar Reddy also returned two wickets apiece, and Cummins was pleased with the discipline the bowlers showed.
"Really happy with how we closed out. It was really disciplined, everyone was strong with their fields and how they wanted to bowl and executed well on the fly. It was not easy when they are trying to hit a six every ball."

Bhuvneshwar Kumar: SRH batters are 'ruining us'

The leader of the SRH bowling attack, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, heaped praise on Natarajan's effort in what was their fifth win in seven outings. Natarajan used his change-of-pace as well as was effective with the yorkers, making it tough for Capitals' batters to line him up.
"We know how good he is when it comes to Yorkers," Bhuvneshwar said after the match. "He is someone who keeps working hard, a silent guy who goes unnoticed most of the times. But he is a star for us for so many years playing for SRH. We know how important he is for us, he is truly a match-winner."
For years, SRH were known to win games because of their bowling in the IPL. But for a change their batters are firing in unison and Bhuvneshwar, who returned 1 for 33 off his four overs, was happy for the bowlers to take a backseat. But he also had a word of caution for them.
"For so many years, this is possibly the first time our batting is clicking so much," he said. "As bowlers, we are happy to take the backseat and let the batters do their work and happy do defend so many runs. Honestly, they are ruining us; if one of the games we score 180-200 mentally, it will be tough for us bowlers to defend those. But great to see the way they are batting.
"When you are defending those many runs, either of the things happen - you go for plenty of runs or you get teams out within 150. We accept the fact that when you defend so many runs, you can go for plenty of runs."