Asked to bat, Chris Gayle smashed 69 in 37 deliveries, decorated with six fours and five sixes, as Punjab managed 163 for 7 in their 20 overs. Delhi then almost messed up the chase after Dhawan (41-ball 56) got them off to a brilliant start. However, Iyer (49-ball 58*) batted till the very end and led his side to a victory with two balls to spare.
Earlier, it was all about Gayle till he was at the crease. The left-hander played to his strengths and opened his shoulders every time he got something in his arch. The likes of KL Rahul (12), Mayank Agarwal (2) and David Miller (7) hardly contributed and it was Gayle who had to make sure that Punjab didn't fall behind in the game from the start.
The Jamaican batsman didn't take much time to settle in and muscled Ishant Sharma for a gigantic six over long on to make his intention very clear. Gayle was ruthless against both wrist-spinners - Sandeep Lamichhane and Amit Mishra - and played some big shots against them. He first slammed Lamichhane for four fours in the same over and then hit Mishra for three maximums in the space of four deliveries.
Kagiso Rabada (2 for 23) and debutant Sherfane Rutherford kept him quiet for a couple of overs and the moment Lamichhane came for his second spell, Gayle greeted him with a huge six. However, the leg-spinner got his revenge on the very next delivery, courtesy Colin Ingram. The South African tagged with Axar Patel at deep mid-wicket and took a stunning catch to send Gayle back to the pavilion. The leg-spinner then also got rid of Sam Curran in the same over to complete his three-wicket haul.
While Gayle was going bonkers from one end, Mandeep Singh (27-ball 30) did his job and made sure the West Indian had most of the strike. The 27-year-old however couldn't carry on and was stumped while playing a wild heave.
With wickets falling at regular intervals, Punjab needed a solid finish and they got it from debutant Harpreet Brar (12-ball 20*) who hasn't even made his first-class debut. The 23-year-old played a couple of good-looking shots through the offside before hammering Rabada for a six over deep square leg in the last ball of the innings, helping his team cross the 160-run mark.
In reply, Delhi went hard in the powerplay and made full use of the new and hard ball. Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan started playing their shots from the second over itself and the two looked in solid touch before the former was run out for 13 in the fourth over.
Dhawan was unfazed by Shaw's departure and didn't allow Hardus Viljoen and Harpreet to settle in. Everytime he got something short or wide, Dhawan made full use of it. Shreyas Iyer too joined the party by crafting Harpreet for two boundaries through the off side.
There was enough dew at the venue and that made things even more difficult for the bowlers. Spinners didn't get any grip but despite that, Iyer and Dhawan made sure that they didn't go for needless shots. In the process, Dhawan also completed his 35th IPL half-century and became the first player to hit 500-plus fours in this tournament.
The home team were cruising along nicely before Dhawan threw away his wicket after hitting seven fours and a six. Iyer however didn't lose his focus but did take some calculated risks against Curran to bring the equation down to 36 off 30. Rishabh Pant (6) then did what he mostly does in these kinds of situations, which is play a needless shot and throw his wicket away.
Delhi needed the calm head of Ingram and the 33-year-old almost completed the job for his team by smashing 19 in just nine deliveries. It looked like a walk in the park but Delhi lost Ingram and Axar in consecutive deliveries to give Punjab a narrow opportunity.
With six required in the final over, Iyer slammed a boundary towards deep mid-wicket to ensure Delhi didn't have to go through a yet another heartbreak.
First Published: April 21, 2019, 6:30 AM IST