A short third man, in sort of a deepish gully position, and another one not too far to his right, along with a slip were stationed for Jos Buttler in the first over by the left-arm seamer Khaleel Ahmed. Buttler has been in such form this season, cutting and driving, that some doubts had to be sowed in his mind and this was a good move from the DC think- tank. Particularly, because, Khaleel also can shape the ball back into Buttler for the bluff-move. The balls kept slanting across, Buttler, aware of those two fielders for his cut-slash kept leaving and suddenly one arrived from short of length. Perhaps because of those two fielders, Buttler chose to pull but it was well outside off and he sort of tried to pull out of the shot but it was too late. Luckily, for him, it flew over slips. Off the last ball of the over, came another angler, and Buttler poked it just wide of the lunging slip. Khaleel had his hands on his head, but it was a good over that made Buttler think and doubt himself.
— Sriram Veera
Royals on the edge
Through much of the power-play overs, Rajasthan Royals were living on the edge. Rather, living off the edge. Both Devdutt Padikkal, enduring a rough patch, and Jos Buttler, riding a purple patch, were edgy as well as edge-prone against a disciplined Delhi attack. In the first over the energetic Khaleel Ahmed, Jos Buttler twice played and missed the ball, as many times he edged the ball too. Two fours arrived, both off the edge—the first flew over third man, the second hustled beyond the first slip. Padikkal survived a vociferous lbw appeal, before he slashed at a wide ball of his familiar nemesis—Mustafizur Rahman, who had devoured him thrice in 19 balls before this game. The ball screamed off the outside edge, though piercing the narrow gap between short third man and backward point. Capitals were made to curse their wretched fortune, as Padikkal hammered successive boundaries off Rahman, before Buttler reacquainted with his destructive touch, blasting Ahmed for a pair of sixes in the sixth over.
– Sandip G
Don’t be greedy with you part-time bowler, a sacred white-ball truism it is. Whereas on a good day, or an IPL night, he could be deputed for a couple of tight overs, clinging for too long could backfire. Like Delhi Capitals’ indulging of part-time off-spinner Lalit Yadav. He bowled two thrifty overs upfront—conceding only six runs. But Delhi Capitals could not resist the gamble (or greed) to squeeze an extra over from him or a surface that was drier and holding up a trifle. The ploy turned not just counterproductive, but catastrophic. The Jos Buttler he ran into in the 13th over was different to the Buttler that he had strangled in the power-play. He was like a deer shoved into a lion’s den. Buttler nailed him for a couple of sixes and a four in the eighteen-run over.
– Sandip G
Buttler & Hit-Admirer
There were many astonishing hits from Jos Buttler but he produced one absolute stunner from an awkward position in the 19th over that startled even his team-mate Shimron Hetmyer, whose eyebrows shot up. It was a fairly good delivery from the left-armer Mustafizur Rahman, full well outside off and angling further away; for most of its trajectory and deviation, it seemed Buttler wasn’t in a right position but somehow he leaned across and didn’t just flail at it for a one or two but actually got his bottom hand working over-time to scoop it over long-off. “I tell myself before the ball that I have done all the hard work in preparation and I just need to trust my body to do its thing,” Buttler said in a RR video about his pre-ball routine when he gets out to bat. His instinct, and above all his amazing skills allowed him to trust his tired body to smash that six. He would get out off the final ball of that over, holing out to long-on, and Shimron Hetmyer would wait for him to reach the ropes before stepping out with a smile and a shake of head in awe and appreciation at the approaching Buttler.
– Sriram Veera
No Oscar for this, Warner
David Warner’s bluff did not pay off. He had just edged an attempted flick—he backed away so far that his feet nearly hugged the tramline on his leg-side—to the wicket-keeper. The bowler, Prasidh Krishna, was so certain about the edge that he did not bother to turn back and appeal, and rushed to the embrace of his onrushing teammates.
But the Delhi Capitals opener pretended as though nothing had happened—as though the appeal was pseudo. He gestured the “don’t run” signal towards the non-striker Prithvi Shaw, and seemed to brush his thigh-pad to indicate that the ball had ricocheted off his protective equipment. All this while, Warner wore an expressionless face, like a method actor in a Konstantin Stanislavski movie. For a fleeting second, even Prasidh stood confused, and seemed to ask Warner why he was lingering on. And then they suddenly remembered that there was an umpire in the middle, to whom Prasidh implored than appealed. He duly lifted his index finger and Warner had to go. But not without some more acting—he shook his head, caressed his thigh pad twice more, and even lipped something at Prasidh before dragging off to the dugout, muttering something to himself, as if he had been punished for some crime he had not committed. No Oscar for this, Warner.
– Sandip G
Ashwin buzz & Cheeka’s Chahal chatter
“Sanju! Eranginaana, inda pakkam, anda pakkam paathuko!” (If he charges down the track, look out for either side), basically saying he might fire the ball down leg or off side if Rishabh Pant charges out at him. It was the sixth over of the chase, and just after Ashwin had taken out Sarfraz Khan first ball. But Ashwin didn’t really give Pant a chance to charge out by bowling two from well short of length – Pant whipped the first one for a four and turned the next for a couple. Finally, off the last ball of the over, Ashwin looped it up fuller on length, drawing Pant forward, and nearly had his man too. Pant lunged but was beaten in flight, and just about stretched to push-drive it through mid-off. At the end of the fourth over, Kris Srikkanth had a bit of advice to Sanju Samson. “Dei! Sanju! Ashwin ey kondu vaada! (Oi! Bring on Ashwin!) Samson listened to him an over later and was rewarded with a wicket. As soon as Srikkanth said that, R Sridhar, former fielding coach of India, said, he would bring the best bowler of the team on, which is Ashwin. Srikkanth didn’t bat an eyelid: “Sridhar! Best bowler of the team is Yuzvendra Chahal!” Sridhar tried saying that Ashwin’s discipline has been helping Chahal pick up wickets and Srikkanth decided to turn peaceful and mumbled out some sweet nothings.
– Sriram Veera
And then, three become none
When Lalit Yadav sliced a ball skywards, three fielders, none of them calling for the catch, sprinted in. One was Yuzvendra Chahal, the bowler; the second was Devdutt Padikkal from covers, and third Shimron Hetmyer from mid-off. Then, like a well-choreographed dance scene, they suddenly stopped and watched the ball plunge into the turf. It was a difficult catch to judge for all three and all three had to cover a fair distance, but memories of the catch they had dropped might have been fresh, thus holding them back from diving full-pelt.
had let off Rishabh Pant in the ninth over, off Obed McCoy at deep midwicket. Pant was again the beneficiary when he misjudged a skier at deep fine leg, the ball eventually bouncing off the stretched palms, off the bowling of Prasidh Krishna. So both were understandably catch-shy. Padikkal’s case was baffling as he had clung onto a skyscraper from Pant. He too had misread the ball’s dip, but did not take the eyes off the ball and adjusted well enough to hold on. But a skier on a dewy Wankhede night was a fielder’s nightmare.
– Sandip G