Ajinkya Rahane transformed a season that has run cold as he teamed up with red-hot Shikhar Dhawan to guide Delhi Capitals into the Indian Premier League play-offs following a six-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
Rahane’s 60, his first substantial score of IPL 2020, and Dhawan’s 54, his third fifty to go with two centuries, and their mastery over Virat Kohli’s bowling weapon—leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal went wicketless returning 0/29—settled the game.
DC, electing to bat, restricted RCB to 152/7 and coasted to 154/4 in 19 overs.
The win lifted Delhi Capitals to 16 points and second in the points table, behind Mumbai Indians. RCB also qualified once they dragged the DC innings past 17.3 overs to ensure a net run rate superior to Kolkata Knight Riders—both teams are on 14 points. KKR hopes rest on MI beating Sunrisers Hyderabad on Tuesday. SRH victory will eliminate KKR.
The toss suggested anxiety in both camps. Virat Kohli just winced as Shreyas Iyer called correctly at a venue where seven out of eight games had been won by the team chasing. DC had lost their previous three games at Abu Dhabi, but with RCB having lost three previous games and Capitals four in a row to be stuck on 14 points, it was about giving a good account.
Rahane, who had moved from Rajasthan Royals this season and had struggled in the five previous games, proved a great selection and sent in at No.3, he took charge with Dhawan.
He was in great touch and showed intent as he and Dhawan dominated the bowling in an 88-run partnership. Both were caught at backward shortleg playing the needless lap shot to left-arm spinner Shahbaz Ahmed, but DC were always in control.
Young opener Devdutt Padikkal (50-41b, 5×4) produced another classy knock for his fourth half-century, hitting lofted boundaries in power play and rotating the strike with Kohli.
He was bowled making room to hit Anrich Nortje’s 152 kph delivery in the 16th over, but RCB were in panic as AB de Villiers (35-21b, 1×4, 2×6), coming in the 13th over with scoring rate under seven runs, again left with too much to do.
Kohli (29-24b, 2×4, 1×6) raised 57 runs with Padikkal, but for the third game he failed to stamp his authority. On 13, his mistimed shot off spinner Axar Patel was dropped by Anrich Nortje at long-off.
But Ashwin was outstanding, in powerplay and later. Padikkal was alert to his guiles, but the spinner took the pace off and bowled side-arm too to peg back scoring. Brought back to bowl his last over—13th of RCB innings—he got Kohli to miscue a 77kph delivery straight to midwicket.
Nortje removed Chris Morris for nought in his double-wicket 16th over, and though Shivam Dube landed blows to get 17 runs in the 18th over, de Villiers’ run out in the final over trying to retain strike showed how DC bowlers had tamed RCB’s batting might.
South African pace pair Nortje and Kagiso Rabada shared five wickets as DC bowlers took wickets whenever RCB threatened with the bat.