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Match Analysis

Kapp steals the show again for Delhi Capitals

The allrounder was the biggest influence in the game against RCB, making 32 off 16 balls and picking up 2 for 35

At 34, Marizanne Kapp has taken her batting to a whole new level. It seems like she has been upgrading, especially over the last few years, to stay updated with the heavy demands of the short format.
With the ball, she is an all-format, all-condition threat to any opponent; something that was also evident in the WPL a few days ago when she flattened UP Warriorz with a riveting spell of new-ball fast bowling, picking up 3 for 5.
On Thursday, her determined all-round show - a 16-ball 32 and 2 for 35 in a high-scoring contest - handed Royal Challengers Bangalore their first defeat of the season and pushed Delhi Capitals to the top of the table with two wins in three matches.
What has stood out in her recent performances with bat is the consistency and the tempo at which she strikes. In ODIs played in the last six months, she scored 27, 45* and 75 against New Zealand (last September) and followed it up with 50*, 75, and 0 against Australia in February. In T20Is, since the start of 2023, Kapp has hit 273 runs at a strike rate of 123.52 in 12 innings compared to her career strike rate of 99.24.
Back to the Chinnaswamy Stadium on a warm evening, Kapp's blitz and the fifth-wicket stand with the returning Jess Jonassen (36* off 16) put RCB in an uncomfortable position for the chase. She arrived at the crease in the 13th over when the score was 111 for 3, after Shafali Verma and Alice Capsey's fireworks. With Jonassen, she put on 48 off 22 balls to help the team post an above-par 194 for 5.
It took Kapp just two balls to get into the business. A half-tracker from left-arm spinner Sophie Molineux in the 14th over sat up to be hit, and she stood tall and smacked it over long-on for six. In the 16th over bowled by offspinner Shreyanka Patil, Kapp steered one behind point for a boundary.
She had no mercy for her South Africa team-mate Nadine de Klerk, who was playing her first WPL game and came in for the 17th to complete her quota. A pumped-up Kapp chipped down the track, used her wrists to full effect and slammed two sixes and a four to cap off 19 runs from the over.
A miscued hit to long-off in the penultimate over off Sophie Devine then ended Kapp's brilliant innings. But by the time she walked out, Capitals had moved past the 170 mark.
"I am actually getting more questions about being an allrounder," Kapp spoke of her role as a mentor for younger bowlers, ahead of the game.
"The only advice I can ever give is [to] work as hard as you can when you are young. When you get older, it is about being fresh on game days. RCB are a quality team, we have to be on the button from ball one. If you focus a bit more on your team and what you can do, it should work against the best teams in the world," she said.
In the chase, Kapp, the bowler, had to work hard against Smriti Mandhana, whose stylish 74 gave RCB hope till the halfway stage of the chase. Unlike the fast bowler's other two matches in the competition, where she bossed the Powerplay, she was hit for 15 runs off her first two overs.
She came back into the attack in the 12th over after four other Capitals bowlers had their turn. In the first five deliveries, Kapp leaked a four and a six against Mandhana, but the final ball was all the Capitals needed to bounce back.
This time, she bowled a slow delivery on good length, angled into the left-hander. Mandhana responded by backing away to loft it towards the off side but failed to connect and the ball hit the top of the off stump. A wicket after 17 deliveries on Thursday, Kapp stared hard at the opposition captain before letting out a roar in celebration.
In her next over, a slow-cutter dismissed Richa Ghosh - who had just joined in on the fun with two sixes - for a 12-ball 19 after she mistimed one to backward point. When Kapp's final over ended, she had all but won the game for the Capitals. They had 50 runs in the bank and RCB had only 24 balls to go past it. Excellent death bowling from Capitals meant the hosts slipped from 138 for 2 in the 16th over to finish at 169 for 9, losing by 25 runs.
"Honestly, I felt like in the last year and a half, I was not as upright as I previously was," Kapp spoke about the aspects of her bowling action that she worked on post the WBBL in December, on the official broadcast.
"So I just tried to be a bit more upright at the crease and not fall back as much. I felt like I probably overstepped a bit in the past. Now I am trying to run in a bit harder, continue with that momentum and finish my action.
"I enjoy T20 cricket, but my favourite is still ODI cricket," Kapp, who has been on the international stage for 15 years now, said. "There is so much going on in T20s and you have to be on the ball, or else you will find yourself wanting. It's a high-pressure format, but skill stays the same."
After batting for two hours to help South Africa win their second ODI against Australia in North Sydney, in early February, she conceded, "I am 34 years, and it's starting to get tough"
Perhaps she's right and it is beginning to get tough for her, but watching on from the outside, it really doesn't look like it. Her recent performances suggest Kapp is ageing like fine wine.

Srinidhi Ramanujam is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo