Punjab Kings 167 for 7 (Prabhsimran 103, Ishant 2-27) beat Delhi Capitals 136 for 8 (Warner 54, Harpreet 4-30, Chahar 2-16) by 31 runs
In demanding batting conditions, the Punjab opener, who had begun the season with a highest IPL score of 16, found ways not just to survive but to keep scoring quick runs in a way nobody else managed to. It felt like a coming-of-age innings.
How it started
When there is pace in the pitch, it’s easy to hit through the line and keep scoring runs steadily. When it is not there, it’s hard to even get the ball off the square. So you get your runs in fits and spurts.
Kings suffered 22 balls for no runs in the powerplay, but hit seven others for 32 runs (5×4 and 2×6).
A lot of this work was the result of Prabhsimran’s enterprise. His role in the team is to do whatever is necessary to maximise the field restrictions. And he performed admirably, switch-hitting spin for sixes and moving around all over the batting crease, just to throw the bowlers off their plans.
But then his role changed. From being the guy who could not place any price on his wicket, he became the guy who simply could not get out. So he settled in. Got used to the pitch. And by around the 11th over or so, he was finding ways to hold his shape and exert complete control over his shots.
Prabhsimran was 53 off 44. Then he was dropped on 68. Then he was 102 off 61.
That’s 49 in 17 balls. On a pitch where none of his team-mates crossed 20, and only two others managed to score at better than run-a-ball. This was a spectacular display of perseverance, even if he did have a tiny bit of help.
In conditions where the ball isn’t coming onto the bat, all you have to do is take pace off, hit a hard length and, most importantly, target the stumps. Do not let the batter free his arms.
Prabhsimran though was basically invited to free his arms. According to ESPNcricinfo’s data, a majority of the balls he faced (33) were either outside off stump or worse, wide outside off stump. And he took 60 runs from them including seven fours and three sixes.
Capitals should have known better. The chance they created – the catch that Rilee Roussouw dropped – was the result of a mis-hit to a ball that arrived in line with this body. They didn’t learn. And they were punished.
How it ended
It didn’t make sense why Kings would have let any of that happen on a pitch where the ball was both stopping on the batters and turning more than a fair bit.
Eventually, Shikhar Dhawan turned to spin and the game changed.
By the end, Capitals needed seven players to combine just to reach the total they allowed one batter to get. These were not the conditions to give away a century.
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo