4, 0, 0, 25, 0, 1, 1, 19, 0

The above sequence of numbers highlights Delhi Capitals’ troubles at the top of the order. In nine matches coming into the Qualifier 2 against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday, Delhi’s openers simply hadn’t managed to get going.

Between the talented Prithvi Shaw and experienced Ajinkya Rahane, DC hadn’t been able to find a solution to the problem and somehow, it was starting to drag the in-form Shikhar Dhawan down as well.

So even while the decision to push Marcus Stoinis up the order was calculated (and on the cards for a while), when it eventually panned, make no mistake: it was also a desperate move.

DC coach Ricky Ponting knew that if they couldn’t get going early, SRH’s much-vaunted bowling attack would make things more difficult for them by tightening the screws and drying up the runs.

So he settled on a player he knew and trusted and perhaps, most importantly, a player who wanted to make the difference.

Ever so often, players talk about wanting to do the right things for the team but sometimes, the player’s ambition and the team’s goal don’t align. Stoinis, however, wanted this.

After the match against MI, Ponting had said: “Marcus has probably been slightly frustrated right through the tournament that he has not had as much exposure at the top of the order as he would have liked.”

So for the crucial match against SRH, Ponting gave Stoinis his chance. The opportunity to go up the order, as he had done so successfully in the Big Bash League last season, and make the mark. The Australian allrounder didn’t need to be told twice.

He was almost dismissed with the total on 12 but Jason Holder at short mid-on could not hold on to a tough chance. It needed to stick, it didn’t.

That second chance seemed to trigger Stoinis’ anger. And Stoinis, who is now getting used to being called The Hulk, then smashed everything that came his way.

Immediately after getting a life, the next nine balls were dealt with in aggressive fashion: 4, 4, 1, 4, 0, 4, 0, 6, 4. Nine balls, 27 runs and DC were off to a flying start after a series of dismal opening stands.

This period also got Dhawan in the mood and from that point on SRH were always under the pump. It was DC’s first 50+ opening stand in 10 games and only the second time in the season that SRH had failed to pick a wicket in the Powerplay.

The 86-run stand set the tone of the innings and DC only got more confident as the match went on.

Stoinis in IPL 2020:

Played: 16 matches
Batting: 352 runs, Strike Rate 149.15
Bowling: 12 wickets, Economy Rate 9.39

Stoinis faced major struggles with the bat in the middle order during last year’s ODI World Cup but since then he decided that he needed to free up his mind and take risks without doubting himself.

“It’s something I did a bit earlier in my career when playing for Australia,” he told cricket.com.au in August. “Being younger you are a bit more carefree and looking to take risks. I went away from that a bit so it’s probably something I can bring back into my game.”

And while he slowed down a bit in the latter part of his innings, his anger seemed to have been triggered once again by Rashid Khan’s send-off after his dismissal. The wrath was not over. Stoinis wasn’t done for the day.

Bowling impact

When DC came on to bowl, he took three top-order wickets to take the heart out of the SRH chase.

After Rabada had accounted for Warner early, Stoinis sent back opener Priyam Garg and in-form Manish Pandey in one over to push SRH into a corner. He was getting some late swing and movement off the wicket with the scrambled seam.

Then, a little later in the innings, he also dismissed the free-stroking Kane Williamson (67) to all but end SRH’s challenge. He ended up with figures of 3/26 in his 3 overs.

Stoinis has always been a confidence player and this showing against SRH will give him and DC a huge dose of confidence before the final against the Mumbai Indians.

More importantly, though, the presence of Stoinis at the top of the order allows DC to play another bowler and also bring Shimron Hetmyer (42 off 22) back into the lineup. With Rishabh Pant misfiring, DC need finishers and Hetmyer showed he can be that and more.

DC aren’t exactly firing on all cylinders still but they are in the final and that is all that should matter at this point. MI won’t make it easy but Delhi are in their first final in 13 seasons and if that doesn’t make them feel good then nothing will. You don’t need to be perfect to win and as Stoinis showed on Sunday, sometimes just wanting it more than the opposition is enough.

(Videos courtesy: iplt20.com)