Aman Khan’s maiden T20 fifty was beautifully complemented by the pacers as Delhi Capitals kept their playoff hopes alive with a tense five-run win over Gujarat Titans in the IPL here on May 2.
Bowling impeccable lengths, Mohammed Shami (4/11 in four overs) was lethal with the new ball as he knocked the wind out of the Capitals' top order, as Gujarat Titans restricted DC to 130 for eight after being asked to bowl.
Aman (51 off 44) waged a lone battle, putting some much-need runs on the board. He added 50 off 54 balls with Axar Patel (27) and 53 off 27 balls with Ripal Patel (23).
In reply, Hardik Pandya’s (59 off 53) sedate fifty and Rahul Tewatia’s (20) hattrick of sixes were not enough as Delhi bowlers held their nerves to stop the defending champions at 125 for 6.
It was the third win of the season for Delhi, who continue to remain at the bottom of the table, while Gujarat continued to remain on the top spot.
Defending a modest target, Delhi quicks were able to make an early breakthrough, as Gujarat lost three wickets inside the powerplay.
If 'Impact Player' Khaleel Ahmed (2/24) bowled a beautiful first over which was a wicket-maiden, pace spearhead Anrich Nortje (1/39) got rid of the dangerous Shubman Gill (6).
Veteran pacer Ishant Sharma (2/23) too joined the party as he outfoxed Vijay Shankar (6) with a perfectly executed knuckle ball.
Wickets continued to tumble with the introduction of the slow bowlers, left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav (1/15) bamboozled David Miller (0) in the seventh over.
Pandya and Abhinav Manohar (26) steadied the Gujarat ship with 62-run stand for the fifth wicket.
Pandya anchored the innings with Tewatia hitting three back-to-back sixes off the penultimate over. But with 12 needed off the final over, Ishant gave away just six runs while taking the vital wicket of Tewatia. Earlier, Delhi once again suffered a dramatic collapse, losing five wickets for 23 runs inside five overs and at the centre of it all was Shami.
The veteran Indian pacer set the tone of the match as he struck off the first ball of the game to get Phil Salt for a golden duck.
A horrible mix up between young Priyam Garg (10) and skipper David Warner (2) cost Delhi the wicket of the Australian in the second over.
Rilee Rossouw (8) was next to depart as Shami struck once again. The veteran Indian induced slight movement away from Rossouw. An outside edge led the ball to straight into the hands of wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha's gloves as Delhi fell to 16 for three.
With Shami bowling a tight opening spell, captain Hardik Pandya decided to continue bowling the pacer and the move paid dividends. Shami continued his wicket-taking streak in his third over, snaring two in his final over.
The Indian bowled a wobble seam delivery, tempting Manish Pandey (1) to drive it but the late movement meant the ball found the edge of the bat and Saha completing a stunning one handed catch diving to his right.
Shami's final victim of the night was Garg with Saha yet again completing another catch behind the stumps.
With half the side back in the dugout, the Capitals, who are at the bottom of the points table and need to win this game to stay alive in the race for the playoffs, were tottering at 28 for five at the end of the Powerplay.
Axar Patel (27), who was promoted up the order, and Aman did stem the rot with some much-needed runs but pacer Mohit Sharma (2/33) broke the 50-run partnership as he snared the wicket of the Delhi vice-captain.
Aman punished Mohit Sharma in the 16th over, hitting a boundary past short third and a flat six over fine leg as DC inched closer to the 100-run mark.
The uncapped Aman brought up a much-needed half century in 41 balls.
His innings was studded with three hits to the fence and as many over it.