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.

Prithvi Shaw was the star performer for Delhi Capitals as they recorded an emphatic seven-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League.

Shaw hit 11 fours – including six in a row in one over – and a trio of sixes in an innings of 82 that helped the Capitals coast to a 155-run target at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.

Shikhar Dhawan was happy enough to play second fiddle to his opening partner, making 46 from 47 balls before falling lbw to Pat Cummins with the total on 132 in the 14th over.

Cummins (3-24) also removed the outstanding Shaw and Rishabh Pant (16) with the finishing line in sight, leaving Marcus Stoinis to complete the job with a streaky four as Delhi triumphed with 21 balls to spare.

Kolkata had been indebted to some big hitting in the closing stages from Andre Russell but still finished with a below-par 154-6. The all-rounder blasted two fours and four sixes to top score with 45 not out.

Their hopes of posting a more substantial total had been damaged by losing four wickets for 13 runs in the middle overs, seeing them slip from 69-1 to 82-5.

Shubman Gill made 43 at the top of the order but both captain Eoin Morgan and Sunil Narine failed to trouble the scorers amid the collapse.

Lalit Yadav finished with figures of 2-13 for Delhi, while Axar Patel (2-32) also struck twice with his left-arm spin to help restrict the Knight Riders, who have now lost five of the past six meetings between the teams.


Double celebration for Russell

Russell celebrated his 33rd birthday with an eye-catching 27-ball knock that saw him surpass 6,000 Twenty20 runs in his career.

The right-hander was cautious at first before cutting loose, smashing Kagiso Rabada for successive sixes to finish the 19th over before ending the 20th with another off the bowling of Avesh Khan.

Capitals gain from a Shaw thing

Shaw reached his half-century from just 18 deliveries, aided by taking Shivam Mavi for six successive fours in an opening over that cost 25 runs (Delhi's reply had started with a wide).

Delhi's fifth victory in seven outings in the 2021 season sees them move level on 10 points with leaders Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore in the table.

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.

Brilliant half-centuries openers Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw inspired Delhi Capitals to an opening seven-wicket win over Chennai Super Kings in the India Premier League.

Chennai were asked to bat when Rishabh Pant won the toss and recovered well from the early losses of Faf du Plessis for nought and Ruturaj Gaikwad to post 188-7, Suresh Raina top scoring with 54.

But Dhawan (85) and Shaw (72) scythed into what looked like a daunting chase with a stunning stand of 139 for the first wicket and skipper Pant (15 not out) was there to see the Capitals home with eight deliveries to spare.

Chris Woakes (2-18) and Avesh Khan (2-23) set the tone for Delhi as Chennai slumped to 7-2 and the seamers also returned to fine effect – Avesh persuading veteran captain MS Dhoni to drag on for a duck and Woakes bowling fellow England all-rounder Sam Curran with the final ball of the innings.

Curran plundered 34 from 15 deliveries, including two sixes off brother Tom (1-40), in a breezy effort alongside Ravindra Jadeja (26 not out), their 51-run partnership capitalising upon a rebuilding job impressively helmed by Raina.

The India batsman ploughed Marcus Stoinis over for his fourth maximum to reach 50 off 32 balls and he received useful support from Moeen Ali (36) and Ambati Rayudu (23).

A dire mix-up, during which Jadeja collided with Avesh, saw Raina run out amid a slump of three wickets for 14 runs – a blip that proved costly as Dhawan and Shaw took the Super Kings attack apart.

They motored at around 10-an-over for the majority of their partnership. Shaw had faced only 38 balls, hitting nine fours and three sixes, by the time he skewed Dwayne Bravo (1-38) to Moeen and there was little remaining doubt about the outcome when Dhawan was trapped lbw by Shardul Thakur (2-53).

Virat Kohli hailed "one of our sweetest victories" after India fought hard to overcome England by 66 runs in the opening ODI in Pune.

Man-of-the-match Shikhar Dhawan laid a solid foundation for India with an assured 98, missing out on three figures when he miscued a pull off Ben Stokes to Eoin Morgan at midwicket.

Kohli made a similarly fluent half-century but the hosts had stumbled to 202-5 when debutant Krunal Pandya joined KL Rahul in the 41st over.

Krunal (58 not out) laid waste to an otherwise impressive England bowling performance, his 26-ball fifty the fastest ever in a maiden ODI, while wicketkeeper Rahul similarly impressed with an unbeaten 62 as India posted 317-5.

England threatened to make short work of that total as Jonny Bairstow (94) and Jason Roy (46) motored to 135 without loss inside 15 overs, before India's seamers turned the contest on its head.

Prasidh Krishna, also on debut, was the pick with 4-54, while Shardul Thakur's 3-37 accounted for the dangerous trio of Bairstow, Morgan (22) and Jos Buttler (2), and the excellent Bhuvneshwar Kumar took 2-30.

"That's one of our sweetest victories in the recent past. We haven't won many good games in ODIs," India skipper Kohli said at the post-match presentation.

"It was a great comeback from all our bowlers after going for few runs early on. Prasidh was amazing, Krunal as well. Shardul, Bhuvi were amazing. I am a really proud man right now.

"The team showed great character and intensity. As I've mentioned in the past as well, we promote players who have intent and back their skills.

"A special mention to Shikhar's innings as well and KL was back among the runs. We want to back people who will do a selfless job.

"It's a healthy competition between everyone for every slot. We have two or three players available for every slot."

Perhaps not to quite the same extent, but world champions England have their own enviable depth of talent.

Nevertheless, the steadying hand of Joe Root at number three, where Stokes stepped up to be dismissed for one, and Jofra Archer's death bowling were certainly missed as both players undertake a period of rest.

As in the recent 3-2 reverse in the T20I series, captain Morgan was left to rue middle-order failings, with the plummet form 135-0 to 176-5 key in England's challenge fading to 251 all out with 47 deliveries unused.

Nevertheless, he stood by the aggressive approach that has brought his side so much recent success.

"I thought the bowlers were outstanding and there was a bit more on offer for their seamers," he said.

"The two openers were outstanding, but we failed to build on from that. We need to execute better than we did. India did really well and deserved to win.

"Being able to take the attack to the opposition is something that we pride ourselves on. We want to continue to push the envelope in that regard. It's better for us to lose like this than losing by 20 runs.

"The game is always moving forward, technology and fitness are moving forward, so we need to push hard as we can. It's important for us to dictate the way we play."

A magnificent and emotional ODI debut from all-rounder Krunal Pandya helped to give India an authoritative 66-run win in the series opener against England.

The tourists twice looked to have taken control of the contest – initially when India squandered the platform laid by Shikhar Dhawan (98) and stumbled to 202-5, before Jonny Bairstow (94) and Jason Roy (46) tore after the eventual target of 317-5 with a 135-run opening stand inside 15 overs.

But Krunal clattered an unbeaten 58 form 31 deliveries, featuring seven fours and two sixes, as he and KL Rahul climbed into some sub-par death bowling from England.

In a curtailed mid-innings interview following his knock, Krunal broke down in tears as he dedicated his format debut to his father, who passed away in January.

Having seen his left-arm spin disappear under Roy and Bairstow's early assault, Krunal returned to claim the important wicket of Sam Curran (12) as England subsided meekly – seamers Prasidh Krishna (4-54), Bhuveneshwar Kumar (2-30) and Shardul Thakur (3-37) doing the bulk of the damage to dismiss Eoin Morgan's side for 251 in 42.1 overs.

 

Steve Smith smashed Australia's third-fastest ODI century and Aaron Finch also made a sublime hundred as India were consigned to a 66-run defeat in the first match of the series.

Smith struck a sensational 105 from just 66 balls and Finch crafted 114 in Australia's massive total of 374-6 - their biggest against India in the 50-over format.

David Warner (69) also made the tourists suffer, while Glenn Maxwell bludgeoned 45 from only 19 balls in Australia's second-highest ODI total at the SCG.

Mohammed Shami (3-59) was comfortably the pick of the India bowlers on a painful Friday afternoon in the field.

Hardik Pandya struck a superb 90 and Shikhar Dhawan made 74, but India, returning to action for the first time since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, fell short on 308-8 in reply.

Josh Hazlewood (3-55) and Adam Zampa (4-54) did the damage with the ball for Australia as they started their summer in style to go 1-0 up in the three-match series.


FINCH AND WARNER MAKE HISTORY

Finch and Warner combined for the highest opening stand for Australia in an ODI at the SCG, their 156 surpassing the record of 152 set by Geoff Marsh and David Boon in 1986.

Shami finally got the breakthrough in the 28th over, snaring Warner caught behind after Virat Kohli reviewed, but Finch and Smith dished out more punishment, putting on 108 in just 12 overs.

The brilliant Finch struck two sixes and another nine fours in his fourth ODI century against India, a tally only Ricky Ponting has bettered with six, before the skipper became Jasprit Bumrah's only victim.

SENSATIONAL SMITH AND MAXWELL GO BESERK

While Finch uncharacteristically scored at less than a run a ball, Smith raced to a magnificent hundred which he reached off 62 balls.

Smith failed to hit the heights during the recent Indian Premier League but produced a disdainful knock as he dispatched the tourists' attack to all parts - Yuzvendra Chahal (1-89) conceding the most runs by an India spinner in an ODI.

The imperious Smith hit four sixes and 11 fours as he put on a show along with Maxwell, who treated the crowd to some astonishing innovative strokes in an explosive innings.

HAZLEWOOD AND ZAMPA DERAIL INDIA CHASE

India's run chase got off to a blistering start, Mitchell Starc conceding 20 off an 11-ball first over, but they were struggling on 101-4 in the 14th over - Kohli making just 21 after he was dropped by Zampa on one.

Hazlewood had Kohli caught by Finch at midwicket and the quick also saw the back of Mayank Agarwal and Shreyas Iyer.

Dhawan - dropped by Maxwell on 41 - and Pandya - playing as a specialist batsman - gave India hope with a fifth-wicket stand of 128, but spinner Zampa removed both in quick succession and got rid of Ravindra Jadeja in an ultimately comfortable win for Australia.

Mumbai Indians take on Delhi Capitals in the 2020 Indian Premier League final on Tuesday, aiming to retain the title they won for a record-extending fourth time last year.

The Rohit Sharma-led side have been in great form and enter the contest as strong favourites to overcome the Capitals, who are competing in their first final.

But if Mumbai are to become only the second side to win back-to-back crowns, after Chennai Super Kings in 2010 and 2011, they will need to end their even-number year jinx.

Their previous triumphs came in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019, losing their only odd-number year final to the Super Kings in 2010.

Delhi may lack the pedigree of their opponents but confidence will be high in the camp after overcoming Sunrisers Hyderabad by 17 runs on Sunday.

As the top two sides in the tournament pool stage prepare to go head-to-head at the Dubai International Stadium, we look at where the game could be won and lost.

 


DHAWAN CHASING DOWN RAHUL

Capitals' Shikhar Dhawan enters the final with 603 runs from 16 matches and needs 68 to overtake Kings XI Punjab's K. L. Rahul at the top of the charts.

Dhawan is averaging 46.38 and has two hundreds to his name in this season's IPL.

Mumbai have a couple of big hitters of their own in the top five, with Ishan Kishan and Quinton de Kock (both 483) behind only Rahul, Dhawan and David Warner (548).

Four Mumbai batsmen have hit at least 20 sixes in this year's IPL - Kishan (29), Hardik Pandya (25), Kieron Pollard (22) and De Kock (21).

No Capitals player has reached that mark yet - Marcus Stoinis being their most frequent boundary-clearer with 16.


BUMRAH LEADING THE WAY

While Dhawan - who also leads the way in terms of centuries (2) - is in strong contention to win the Orange Cap, Jasprit Bumrah is still eyeing the Purple Cap.

That is currently in Kagiso Rabada's possession, having taken 29 wickets in 16 matches, but Bumrah is just two behind with 27.

The Capitals' biggest wicket-taker, by comparison, is Anrich Nortje, who is down in seventh with 20 from his 15 outings.

In terms of all-rounders, Stoinis has scored 352 runs and taken 12 wickets, making him one of only 12 to have completed the 350-10 double in an IPL season.

MUMBAI'S PROVEN PEDIGREE

Perhaps more than any individual stats, though, is the fact that Mumbai Indians have been there and done it.

They are the most successful IPL franchise ever, reaching five of the 12 finals and winning four of those.

However, the sides' head-to-head record ahead of this season stood at 12 wins apiece, only for Mumbai to win three in a row.

Intriguingly, one finalist has had a 3-0 record against the other in the last three IPL seasons, and it did not stop the Mumbai Indians ending their losing streak against Rising Pune Supergiant on one of those occasions in 2017.

Shimron Hetmyer scored an unbeaten 22-ball 42 today as the Delhi Capitals defeated the Sunrisers Hyderabad by 17 runs to book a spot in Tuesday’s final of the 2020 IPL.

It is their first trip ever to an IPL final where they face four-time champions Mumbai Indians.

Hetmyer hit four fours and a six and shared in a 52-run partnership with Shikhar Dhawan who top scored for the Capitals with a 50-ball 78.

The half-century stand came up in just 25 balls with Hetmyer scoring 34 of them as the Capitals raced towards their match-winning total of 189 for 3.

Man of the Match Marcus Stoinis opened the batting with Dhawan and scored 38 from 27 balls. He and Dhawan scored 50 runs from just 29 balls and were 65 without loss after six overs. Stoinis was unbeaten on 33 and Dhawan 30.

The pair took the score to 86 when Stoinis was bowled by Rashid Khan in the ninth over.

Shreyas Iyer joined Dhawan and together they took the score to 126 when Jason Holder had Iyer caught at mid-off for 21.

Hetmyer and Dhawan then took the Sunrisers’ bowling to task scoring at just about 12 runs an over. The Guyanese batsman was particularly harsh on the West Indies captain hitting him for four fours in the 18th over that yielded 18 runs.

Dhawan was trapped lbw in the 19th over two balls after he was dropped at deep midwicket by Rashid Khan.  The Capitals lost some momentum after that with only seven runs coming off the final over but managed a competitive total of 189 for 3.

Chasing 190, Sunrisers were immediately in trouble when the dangerous David Warner was bowled by Kagiso Rabada for 2 in the second over with the score at 12.

Three overs later, Sunrisers were in deeper trouble when Stoinis dismissed Priyam Garg (17) and Manish Pandey with the fourth and the sixth balls of the fifth over. At the break, Sunrisers were 64 for 3 from nine overs.

Holder stayed with Kane Williamson until the 12th over when he lost his wicket to Axar Patel for 11 and the Sunrisers 90 for 4.

Williamson and Abdul Samad put on a quick-fire 57 to bring Sunrisers back into the hunt. The 50-stand came up in just 27 balls but the chase began to unravel when Sunrisers lost their fifth wicket in the 17th over when Stoinis had Kane caught by Rabada for 67 with the score at 147.

At 167 for 5, Rabada inflicted the death blows when he had the wickets of Samad and Khan in successive deliveries as he finished with 4 for 29.

The double blow took the sting out of the Sunrisers attack and booked the Capitals spot in the finals.

Stoinis completed a good day with figures of 3 for 26.

 

Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan struck half-centuries as Delhi Capitals secured second place and Royal Challengers Bangalore also qualified for the Indian Premier League play-offs despite a six-wicket loss.

The winner of the penultimate match of the regular season at Zayed Cricket Stadium was guaranteed to face Mumbai Indians in Qualifier 1 on Thursday and it was Delhi who came out on top.

RCB remain in the hunt for the title, though, progressing as their net run-rate is better than fourth-placed Kolkata Knight Riders finished with.

Sunrisers Hyderabad can seal the final play-off place at the expense of KKR if they beat defending champions Mumbai on Tuesday.

RCB posted 152-7 after being put in, the consistent Devdutt Padikkal making 50 off 41 balls and AB de Villiers 35 from 21 in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

South Africa pacemen Anrich Nortje (3-33) and Kagiso Rabada (2-30) played big hands for the Capitals once again to restrict Virat Kohli's side to a below-par total.

Dhawan (54 off 41) and Rahane (60 from 46) put on 88 for the second wicket to put the Capitals well on their way to victory.

 

PROLIFIC PADIKKAL, PROTEAS DUO STAR AGAIN 

Padikkal has been one of the shining lights for RCB and the 20-year-old moved above his captain Kohli in the list of leading run-scorers in the 2020 tournament.

The opener matched KL Rahul's tally of five half-centuries in this year's competition, hitting five boundaries as he anchored the innings before the excellent Nortje removed his middle stump.

Ravichandran Ashwin, who opened the bowling, had Kohli caught in the deep for 29 off 24 balls and Rahane ran De Villiers out with a great throw in the final over after the wicketkeeper-batsman had cleared the rope twice.

Rabada, the leading wicket-taker in the tournament, has two more scalps than Jasprit Bumrah with 25 after dismissing Josh Philippe and Shivam Dube. 

 

DHAWAN AND RAHANE DELIVER

Dhawan has also had an outstanding tournament and only his India team-mate Rahul has scored more runs than him. 

The left-hander demonstrated majestic timing and power once again, finding the boundary six times as he and Rahane stepped up when their side needed them.

Rahane's half-century was his first in six knocks, a timely return to form, and he hit one of only two sixes in the run chase under pressure.

Shahbaz Ahmed saw the back of Dhawan and Shreyas Iyer before Rahane fell to Washington Sundar, but Rishabh Pant and Marcus Stoinis finished it off.

Shikhar Dhawan's second consecutive IPL century was not enough for Delhi Capitals to overcome a resurgent Kings XI Punjab, who claimed a five-wicket victory in Dubai - their third win in a row.

Dhawan became the first player in the history of the tournament to register back-to-back tons, carrying his bat for an accomplished 106 not out that accounted for the bulk of 164 for five.

The lack of support for the India opener cost Delhi dear, however, with 14 their next highest individual score, and contributions throughout won the day for the Kings XI.

In at number three after a breezy 15 from captain KL Rahul, Chris Gayle tucked into the beleaguered Tushar Deshpande, hitting three fours and two sixes in a riotous fifth over.

After Gayle was bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin for 29 and Mayank Agarwal was run out in the sixth over, another West Indian in Nicholas Pooran thrillingly picked up the baton.

Pooran compiled a blistering half-century as he added 69 for the fourth wicket alongside Glenn Maxwell. He departed the ball after reaching his milestone, edging the impressive Kagiso Rabada (2-27) behind for a 28-ball 53.

Maxwell departed for 32 when Rishabh Pant pouched a swirling chance off Rabada but Deepak Hooda and Jimmy Neesham - 15 and 10 not out respectively - finished the job authoritatively, the New Zealander planting Daniel Sams over midwicket to finish matters with an over to spare.

Dhawan plays stunning lone hand

Dhawan is in simply irresistible form. His knock on Tuesday made it two centuries and two fifties in his past four innings. During that time he has scored 333 runs and been dismissed only once. However, it would be nice for some of his team-mates to join him. Pant matched skipper Shreyas Iyer's 14 but did so glacially off 20 deliveries.

Deshpande dominated

The right-arm medium pacer found himself in the eye of the storm against Gayle and things got no better when a rampant Pooran tucked into him. A ploy of slow, short deliveries missed the mark horribly and Deshpande's two overs cost 41, featuring five fours and three sixes.

Delhi Capitals went top of the Indian Premier League with a gripping 13-run win over Rajasthan Royals.

Half-centuries from Shikhar Dhawan and skipper Shreyas Iyer accounted for the bulk of the Capitals' 161-7.

Ben Stokes (41) and Jos Buttler (22) impressed at the top of the Rajasthan reply but neither man could kick on and when Anrich Nortje (2-33) crowned a blistering fast-bowling display by bowling Robin Uthappa for 32, the task was beyond a Royals side who have now lost five of their eight games in the competition.

Jofra Archer gave Rajasthan the perfect start with a beautiful delivery that nipped back off the seam to bowl Prithvi Shaw from the first ball of the match.

That launched a stunning opening burst of 2-5 from the England paceman, who Ajinkya Rahane pulled tamely to mid-on.

Dhawan played with typical authority until his 33-ball stay ended in inauspicious fashion on 57 when he scooped Shreyas Gopal to Kartik Tyagi at third man.

Iyer passed fifty when a third umpire review showed Stokes had the ball in his hand and a foot grounded behind the rope when attempting to take a catch off Jaydev Unadkat.

The Capitals captain holed out for 53 off Tyagi next over and the end of their innings brought a clatter of wickets, with Archer (3-19) and Unadkat (2-32) the beneficiaries.

Stokes clipped the opening ball of the Royals' reply for four and he and England team-mate Jos Buttler ensured an explosive initial response.

South Africa paceman Nortje elected to meet fire with fire and, having been thumped over wide long-on for six and scooped for a pair of fours, he bowled Buttler to end an undulating nine-ball stay.

Rajasthan's promising start went further off the rails when Smith continued poor recent form by chipping a return catch to Ravichandran Ashwin for one.

Stokes looked in immaculate touch and hit six fours in his 41 before misjudging Tushar Deshpande's slower ball to be caught in the deep by substitute Lalit Yadav.

Sanju Samson hit Axar Patel over midwicket for a monstrous six that resulted in the retrieved ball being changed but the left-arm spinner had his revenge, bowling the big-hitter for 25.

Patel then accounted for Riyan Parag via a run out - a debacle for which Uthappa was unable to atone as his team-mates limped to148-8.

Pace like fire

The pitches of Dubai are rarely thought of as the ideal stage for the world's premier fast bowlers but Archer and Nortje put on a thrilling exhibition of their art. Of the five runs Archer conceded in his opening spell, only two came off the bat.

If none of the Delhi Capitals line-up could get the measure of Archer, the same could not be said about the Royals' batsmen's ability to deal with Nortje initially, as Buttler threatened to dispatch him to all parts.

The solution? Bowl faster. And faster still. The delivery that bowled Buttler and the one he ramped preceding it both touched 156 km/h. It was a gripping battle.

Smith gets it wrong

Normally so reliable with the bat, Smith's form has fallen away dramatically. This was his fifth single-figure score in six innings and the Australia star also fell short with his captaincy.

The decision to remove a rampant Archer from the attack after two overs looked questionable at the time and it felt like Delhi had been decisively let off the hook as Dhawan and Iyer compiled their crucial 85-run stand.

Long before making his debut for India as a 27-year-old for India, Shikhar Dhawan had displayed serious talent as a T20 batsman. His stylish stroke-making was always something that could take a game away from an opposition and with a strike rate of 123, that threat must be taken seriously. While he is yet to convert any of his starts into hundreds, the 54 half-centuries he has accumulated tell the tale of a consistent performer.

 

Career Statistics (2007-present)

Full name: Shikhar Dhawan

Born: December 5, 1985, Delhi (34)

Major teams India, Deccan Chargers, Delhi, Delhi Capitals, Delhi Daredevils, Delhi Under-16s, India A, India B, India Blue, India Emerging Players, India Green, India Masters, India Red, India Seniors, India Under-19s, Indian Board President's XI, Mumbai A, Mumbai Indians, North Zone, Rest of India, Sunrisers Hyderabad, UWI Vice Chancellor's XI

Playing role: Opening batsman

Batting style: Left-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm offbreak

 

T20I Career

Mat   Inns   NO    Runs     HS     Ave      BF         SR        100     50      4s     6s 

61       59      3      1588       92    28.35    1238     128.27      0      10      175   47    

T20 Career

Mat   Inns   NO    Runs     HS     Ave      BF      SR         100   50    4s     6s   

259    256     26    7294       97*   31.71   5899    123.64      0    54    831   166        

 

Career Highlights

  • 5th most T20I runs scored by an Indian, 1588- avg. 28.35
  • Most T20I runs in the calendar year 2018
  • 61 T20I caps for India
  • 7294 T20 runs at 31.71

Virat Kohli hailed KL Rahul's contribution as India beat Australia in Rajkot to level their ODI series at 1-1 and set up a decider on Sunday.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Rahul scored a rapid 80 and had three dismissals behind the stumps as India scored a 36-run victory, defending a total of 340-6 by bowling out Australia for 304.

Rahul moved from number three to five in the batting order, with captain Kohli nudging up to three, as India adjusted their line-up after a 10-wicket thumping in the opening game of the series.

Kohli said: "I think it's very important to figure out what is the best team you can put on the park and when someone's batting as well as KL was batting today, it's very difficult to leave someone like that out.

"Batting at number five and batting like that for the team, this is probably the best he's played at international level according to me. That knock showed maturity and class.

"We know exactly what we're doing in the changing room. On the outside there's a lot of panic that we don't really focus on."

Kohli made 78, sharing a 103-run partnership for the second wicket with Shikhar Dhawan, whose 96 helped anchor the innings.

"Back to three was good for the team so I'm happy from that point of view that it helped the team," Kohli said.

Paying tribute to Dhawan, Kohli added: "In ODI cricket, he's been one of our most consistent performers. When he plays well it's a good sign for the team. I'm very happy that he scored runs as well. It always augurs well when Rohit [Sharma] and Shikhar both score runs."

Australia's ODI skipper Aaron Finch accepted his side had allowed India to put too many runs on the board.

"Yes, probably, but they played very well," Finch said.

"The whole way through the innings, we were probably one wicket shy of where we really needed to be to contain them at the back end and on an outfield like this with a good wicket and world-class players it can be hard to stop no matter what attack you've got."

Steve Smith's 98 kept Australia in touch, and Marnus Labuschagne made 46 in his first ODI innings, but Australia folded in the closing overs.

Ahead of the series decider in Bengaluru, Finch sent a message to his team, saying: "You just have to make sure that when you get in, you capitalise and you go really big.

"That's probably the area where we were slightly off tonight with the bat, just one wicket too many down as the run rate kept going up."

India avenged their Mumbai mauling with a 36-run defeat of Australia in the second ODI in Rajkot to level the series.

The tourists had embarrassed India in the first match, cruising to a 10-wicket win with unbeaten centuries from David Warner and Aaron Finch.

India posted a more challenging total of 340-6 on Friday, featuring 96 from Shikhar Dhawan, 80 from KL Rahul and Virat Kohli's 78, to give Australia a tricky chase and they fell short on 304 all out to set up a series decider in Bengaluru on Sunday.

At 220-3 with more than 12 overs remaining, Australia were firmly in the hunt, but India's bowlers got on top and the tourists did not recover from losing Steve Smith, whose 98 was the fulcrum of their innings.

Smith played on to give Kuldeep Yadav his second victim in the 38th over after dismissing Alex Carey to bring up 100 ODI career wickets.

Warner had earlier been dismissed for just 15, flicking at a length ball from Mohammed Shami (3-77) outside off stump and caught spectacularly above his head by Manish Pandey at cover.

Finch fell for 33 and Marnus Labuschagne made 46 in his first ODI knock, but Australia's hopes of a late flurry were savaged by Shami yorking Ashton Turner and Pat Cummins with the first two deliveries of the 44th over before Navdeep Saini and Jasprit Bumrah mopped up the tail.

Dhawan and Rohit Sharma had earlier put on a run-a-ball 81 for India's first wicket, before the latter fell for 42, pegged lbw by leg-spinner Adam Zampa.

Dhawan and Kohli kept the runs flowing, with their stand of 103 eventually broken when Dhawan, four short of an 18th ODI century and looking to reach three figures with one blow, was caught at fine leg by Mitchell Starc off Kane Richardson.

India had collapsed from 134 for one to 255 all out in Mumbai, but this time it would be a different story.

The classy Kohli scored at just over a run a ball before becoming the second of three victims for Zampa (3-50), before Rahul injected late pace into the scoring by plundering his 80 from 52 balls, clearing the ropes three times before being run out in the final over.

A blow for India on an otherwise positive day came with Dhawan taking a blow to the ribs when batting that prevented him from fielding.

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