Prabhsimran, Brar put curtains on Delhi Capitals’ race for the playoffs

Phil Salt gets beaten to witness the Zing bails light up in Delhi

Punjab Kings get back to winnings ways after shattering Delhi Capitals’ hopes of qualification, as Prabhsimran Singh and Harpreet Brar starred in a 31-run victory at the Arun Jaitley Stadium, Delhi.

On a must-win encounter, Delhi Capitals skipper, David Warner won the toss and opted to field first. They initiated the innings with a left and right-handed pair in the form of Khaleel Ahmed and Ishant Sharma respectively. And it was just a matter of time before the Indian duo outwitted the Punjab Kings’ skipper, Shikhar Dhawan. Right in the second over of the innings, the southpaw was foxed by his Delhi counterparts and was holed out at the deep by Rilee Rossouw.

Liam Livingstone joined Prabhsimran Singh at no. 3 but was no glitters as Ishant Sharma cleaned up the Englishman after the change of ends in the 5th over. It wasn’t done there as the in-form Jitesh Sharma who came to bat second down was cleaned up by Axar Patel at the cusp of the mandatory field restrictions, scoring a paltry run-a-ball five runs. The surface was on the drier side and the ball was gripping and turning a lot. That was the main reason to bring in Axar Patel early and the all-rounder returned with dividends.

It was Sam Curran who came followed in and steadied the ship supporting Prabhsimran. The tag team glued a 72-run stand for the fourth wicket with the Punjab-based batter scoring the majority of it. Right after, the spinners of the Capitals’ controlled the middle phases of the game but failed to stop the rebel named Prabhsimran Singh. 

The wicket-keeper batter seemed like the lone warrior for his side and went on to rack up his maiden IPL ton. This was the fifth hundred by a player in IPL 2023 with Harry Brook, Venkatesh Iyer, Yashasvi Jaiswal, and Suryakumar Yadav already earning one each.

On a pitch where none of the batters could go beyond 20, and just a single batter baring Prabhsimran struck more than run-a-ball, that too by just four balls, the young gun from Punjab deserved all the due credit for propelling the total to 167 runs. And as a matter of astonishment, the 22-year-old was dismissed by Mukesh Kumar in the 19th over, which actually turned out to be the second ball of the bowler’s first over.

Talk about the DC bowlers, Mitchell Marsh was banged away for 21 runs in an over where Prabhsimran played the role of a warmonger. The rest of the lot were economical with Ishant Sharma being the pick of all, snapping 2 wickets in three overs. 

Arriving for the tricky chase, the Capitals started off strong. David Warner was scoring at a rate of around 200 and it seemed that the Vintage Warner was on show. Targeting excessive runs inside the powerplay is a key mindset in such chases and DC seemed to follow a similar track. The openers – Warner and Phil Salt offered a rollicking start with 65 runs notched up within the mandate field restrictions.

Rahul Chahar made full use of the conditions in Delhi

The Timeout was summoned after the sixth over of the second innings and right after the Punjab Kings enforced a shift of momentum. Harpreet Brar came to bowl his second over of the night and helped the ball cannon through the swot of Salt and crash into the stumps. 

Rahul Chahar was forced to operate from the other end and the leggie did the talking with the cork too. He outfoxed Mitchell Marsh, leg before wicket and Rilee Rossouw who came in at no.4 was holed out in the deep off Brar soon.

Manish Pandey, who is technically a firm batter in such conditions and was sent late to bat. He went to bat at no.7 while Axar Patel and Aman Khan who were sent ahead returned with poor results. 

Wickets fell like nine pins after the departure of Warner as the Delhi-based franchise lost three wickets in a space of eight balls.

The spinners made the batter dance around as the ball turned and bounced sharply. There was a brisk 30-run partnership for the seventh wicket between Aman Khan and Praveen Dubey but faltered under pressure. Nathan Ellis mixed the slower one’s brilliantly and extracted both wickets. 

Ultimately, Kuldeep Yadav and Mukesh Kumar avoided the all-out folding but couldn’t help their franchise as Delhi Capitals fell short by 31 runs in the end. Chahar who was challenging both the edges of the batters, yielded two scalps alongside Ellis while the Moga-born all-rounder, Harpreet Brar was the pick of the bowlers with a four-fer under his name.

Both sides will once again square off in the reverse fixture at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamshala on Wednesday.