With less than two weeks of competition left, the IPL bandwagon finally reached the picturesque HPCA stadium in Dharamsala. The last time the Himachal Pradesh stadium, enveloped with hills all round, witnessed an IPL contest was back in 2013.
On Wednesday, May 17, 2023, Punjab Kings, for whom it was a home match, took on the Delhi Capitals. The eager fans were treated to a cracking contest, but the hosts ended up on the losing side -- a massive blow for PBKS' Play-Offs ambitions.
With a cluster of teams fighting for the three available Play-Offs spots, each game comes bearing too much weight at this stage of the competition.
It'll be a miracle for Shikhar Dhawan's side, who not only needed a win against Delhi Capitals, but also needed to boost their net run-rate and neither happened. Delhi, out of the reckoning for the Play-Offs, played spoilsport as they handed Punjab a disappointing loss.
Rossouw-Salt's dazzling partnership
After being invited to bat, the Delhi batters, who had endured an underwhelming season, at last produced a strong show.
Skipper David Warner and Prithvi Shaw, who had been undergoing a tough run, added 94 off 62 for the first wicket.
What took Delhi's total to a match-winning one was undoubtedly Rilee Rossouw's partnership with Phil Salt. Player-of-the-Match Rossouw hammered his maiden IPL half-century. Bringing up his fifty off just 25 deliveries, the Proteas batter kept Capitals on course for a challenging total.
R&S added an unbeaten 65 off just 30 deliveries. While Rossouw remained unbeaten on 82 off 27, Salt played a cameo of 26 off 14.
Nortje keeps PBKS at bay
While veteran Ishant Sharma delivered with the old and new ball, Anrich Nortje, who was guilty of dropping Liam Livingstone on 3, made amends with two clinical death overs.
Ishant removed Shikhar Dhawan for a duck and then came back to bowl the final over. Bringing his experience to the fore, Ishant kept Livingstone at bay to pick hand DC a 15 run win.
What shaped the win was Nortje's two overs at the death.
With Livingstone threatening to take the game away, Nortje bowled the 16th and 19th, both of which helped DC regain control.
With Livingstone and new batter Jitesh Sharma at the crease, Nortje bowled a much needed quiet over, conceding just seven runs with Jitesh's wicket.
Nortje once again nailed the yorkers as Punjab lost two more wickets and the Proteas star conceded just five runs.
Thereon, needing 33 from the final over, Ishant kept his nerve to deny Punjab, despite a no-ball call.