Delhi Capitals piled on the pain for Punjab Kings and KL Rahul by racing to a seven-wicket victory in the Indian Premier League and going top of the table.

It was revealed earlier on Sunday that Kings captain and star batsman Rahul faces surgery after being diagnosed with acute appendicitis, and he was in hospital while this match played out at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.

In his absence, stand-in skipper Mayank Agarwal made a dominant 99 not out in a total of 166-6, helming the Kings innings and cutting loose when he saw fit in a terrific 58-ball knock that contained four sixes and eight fours.

Shikhar Dhawan produced the key innings for the Capitals in response, making an unbeaten 69 and finding the sort of support that Agarwal lacked, helping Delhi to 167-3, winning with 14 balls to spare.

Agarwal had required five from the final ball of the Kings innings to post what would have been just the second IPL century of his career, but he could only crunch a four down the ground rather than clear the ropes.

Kagiso Rabada had earlier taken two wickets in his first two overs, the second coming when he bowled Kings veteran Chris Gayle with a full toss immediately after being cracked for six by the West Indies batsman.

That was the first of three sixes off Rabada's bowling, but the South African paceman also removed Prabhsimran Singh and Chris Jordan while taking 3-36 in his four-over allocation.

Dawid Malan made 26 but it was ostensibly a one-man show as Agarwal contended with a revolving cast of batting partners.

Delhi had more about them, with Prithvi Shaw making 39 in a 63-run first-wicket stand alongside Dhawan, before Steve Smith added 25.

Shimron Hetmyer launched Riley Meredith for two consecutive sixes followed by a cover drive for four in the 18th over, leaving Delhi just two short of their victory target.

Neither Hetmyer nor Dhawan had the privilege of finishing the job, however, with a pair of wides from Meredith carrying the Capitals over the line.


Agarwal deserved better

Not only did he take over as captain, Agarwal also led by proud example, just as Rahul as so often done. His innings was the standout performance of this match, but where he rose to the occasion, others in the Kings ranks wilted. Gayle, with 13, was the team's third highest scorer, and it is almost impossible to win matches that way.

Getting all Het up

Hetmyer's late care-free cameo of 16 from four deliveries would likely not have happened without his team-mates laying solid foundations. They did so in the face of largely unthreatening bowling from Punjab, who sit sixth with three wins from eight games, amid doubts over whether their leader will be back in action this season.

Shikhar Dhawan smashed 92 to lead Delhi Capitals to a six-wicket win over Punjab Kings in a high-scoring Indian Premier League encounter.

Half-centuries from KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal helped Punjab post 195-4 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai after being put into bat by Capitals skipper Rishabh Pant.

However, Delhi – who came into the contest having alternated between defeat and victory across their previous seven IPL games – bounced back from a three-wicket loss to Rajasthan Royals last time out in stunning fashion.

Dhawan dominated the Kings attack in a well-paced chase, following up his 85 in his side's opener against Chennai Super Kings with a marvellous knock that included 13 fours and two sixes.

Opening partner Prithvi Shaw contributed 32 at the top of the Capitals' order while Marcus Stoinis finished the job in a hurry, the all-rounder making 27 not out from just 13 balls.

Punjab's total had been built on the solid foundation provided by openers Rahul and Agarwal as they shared a 122-run stand, the latter the more aggressive of the pair as his score of 69 came from 36 deliveries.

West Indian duo Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran made just 11 and nine respectively as the innings briefly stuttered, but late cameos from Deepak Hooda – who hit two sixes to make 22 not out from 13 deliveries – and Shahrukh Khan (15 off five balls) lifted the Kings.

Delhi had lost five of the past seven meetings between the franchises but Dhawan made sure they prevailed this time, in the process becoming the competition's leading run-scorer in 2021.

 

Kings run into a spot of trouble

Rahul hit seven fours and two sixes while at the crease, but his 61 runs came from 51 deliveries at a strike-rate of 119.60.

Punjab Kings would have had designs on making in excess of 200 following the start they were given by their openers, but an inability to get after Ravichandran Ashwin – his four overs of spin went for just 28 runs – saw them come up just short.

Capitals gain from in-form opener

Dhawan received the orange cap after the game as he moved above Glenn Maxwell of Royal Challengers Bangalore in the run-scoring table. The left-hander is scoring at 163.15 runs per 100 deliveries in the 2021 edition of the Twenty20 tournament, despite having only hit four sixes.

Bowled within sight of a century as he attempted to sweep Australian seamer Jhye Richardson, Dhawan then watched on as Stoinis rushed his team home with 10 balls to spare.

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