There is an unmistakable touch of genius to their batting. The commentators couldn’t stop talking about the sound that was made when Prithvi Shaw’s bat was meeting the ball. And they couldn’t help but marvel at the explosive potential of Rishabh Pant as he destroyed Basil Thampi and almost won Delhi Capitals the Indian Premier League Eliminator in four balls.
But then in the same breath, they were equally disappointed to see the manner in which both Shaw and Pant got out.
Shaw’s dismissal was a prime example of how batsmen sometimes need to take stock of what is happening around them. He had seen his skipper Shreyas Iyer dismissed trying to run the ball to third man in the same over and then he attempted to play the pull shot. But Khaleel Ahmed’s delivery was a bit too quick, it was onto him before he could complete the shot and the top edge resulted in an easy catch.
Shaw’s innings to that point was everything the doctor ordered for D. He hit shots all around the park, picked the gaps in the field and attacked with freedom. But having put DC in the driver’s seat, he failed to take stock of the situation and readjust his game.
As brilliant as his innings of 56 [off 38 balls] was, it would have been even better if he had managed to shepherd his side to victory. Shaw was only DC batsman who was reading Rashid Khan’s bowling and his presence in the middle might have ensured there was no ‘DC special’ nervous finish.
Sunil Gavaskar, who was on the air, when Shaw was dismissed, couldn’t hide the disappointment: “He just doesn’t defend. Everything he wants to punch away... smash away.”
For now, we can put it down to the madness of youth but having seen the Sunrisers Hyderabad batsmen struggle as the first innings of the match had gone on, Shaw should have known better. He should have known that things will get tougher for DC and as a top-order batsman he needed to instinctively factor that in as well.
India can only hope that these are the lessons that Shaw is willing to learn and apply as time goes by. His batting isn’t perfect and neither is his temperament but when he does get going, he is a sight to behold.
When Shaw was dismissed, Pant was on 2 [off 2 balls]. And he actually began his innings in a very mature; very non-Pant manner. As he later revealed, he was just trying to time the ball at that point. The left-hander tried to build a partnership with Colin Munro for a bit but all that came crashing down when Rashid Khan sent back the New Zealander and Axar Patel back within the space of a few balls.
Suddenly, DC was reduced to 111/5 after 15 overs. Now, only Pant, who has 12 runs off 8 balls at this point, stood between SRH and a place in Qualifier 2. SRH skipper Kane Williamson threw the ball to Mohammad Nabi, his other spinner, for the 16th over.
It was the last throw of the dice. After this, it was going to be all pace. The first four balls yielded just two runs but Pant helped himself to a six [just wide of Rashid Khan on the boundary line] off the fifth ball.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar was brought into the attack next and he conceded just eight runs in his over. The equation came down to 34 needed off 18 balls. Tough ask? Try telling Pant that.
In the first four balls of Thampi’s over, Pant showed us why everyone wants him on the flight to the World Cup. The first ball was smashed straight down the ground for four. The second ball was thumped over deep mid-wicket for six. The third was whipped away past short fine leg and the fourth was smashed over deep mid-wicket for six. Four balls, 20 runs, match over… or so it should have been.
The equation now read 14 runs needed off 14 balls. Then, the nervous Delhi surfaced. Rutherford went for glory, found the fielder. Pant [49 off 21] attempted to do the same and he, too, found the fielder in the deep. In one match, Pant showed us why he should go to the World Cup and why he, perhaps, isn’t going.
Kumar Sangakkara, on the Star Sports Select Dugout show, could quite believe it: “Rishabh Pant made the cardinal mistake of going for glory too early.”
Pant knew what he had done and after the match, he spoke about how he should have finished the game. But he is an instinctive player and somehow, he needs to find a balance. When he does, he will truly reach another level.
Delhi sneaked through despite another late collapse and while SRH were more forgiving, they can be sure the hardened veterans of Chennai Super Kings will make them pay. Still, at the end of the day, Shaw and Pant can be proud of their innings’ which propelled DC to their first ever knockout match win in the IPL.
But they should know that their job is far from done. There are two more matches to go and a tournament to finish well. If they can do that, they will experience the ultimate high and could perhaps be the best learning they could get.