New Delhi, April 21 (IANS) Opener Shikhar Dhawan (56) and skipper Shreyas Iyer (58*) led from the front as Delhi Capitals turned their poor home record with a convincing 5-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Saturday. They reached 166/5 with two balls to spare. With the win, DC now have 12 points from 10 games and have moved one step closer to qualifying for the play-offs.
Chasing 164 for victory, Delhi Capitals didn't start in the most auspicious fashion as they lost Prithvi Shaw for just 13 in the fourth over, run out by Mandeep Singh. But Shikhar Dhawan was in the mood for a long stay as he looked to take the attack to the KXIP bowlers in the company of skipper Shreyas Iyer.
They matched each other shot for shot and looked to punish the bad balls as they also rotated the strike well to keep the momentum in DC's favour. But just when it looked like Delhi would run away with the game, Hardus Viljoen sent back Dhawan (56 off 41 balls) as R. Ashwin took a brilliant catch running back.
With the 92-run partnership coming to an end, Rishabh Pant walked in as DC needed another 48 runs in 6.3 overs. But he played a strange hoick from outside off to be caught by Sam Curran off Viljoen's bowling to be dismissed for 6 as the score read 128/3.
But skipper Iyer stood ground even as Colin Ingram (19 off 9 balls) was dismissed by Mohammed Shami and Axar Patel was also run out for a duck.
Earlier, Kings XI Punjab rode on Chris Gayle's 28th IPL fifty to register 163/7 in their 20 overs. Even as the DC bowlers looked to keep things tight after Gayle's dismissal, the visitors still managed to pick 45 runs from their last five overs as Harpreet Brar finished with an unbeaten 20 off 12 balls.
For Delhi, Axar Patel and Sandeep Lamichhane were the star of the show. While Axar finished with 2/22 from his three overs, Lamichhane picked three wickets even though he was slightly on the expensive side, giving away 40 runs from his four overs.
Put in to bat by Delhi Capitals, Kings XI Punjab looked to start positively. But Sandeep Lamichhane struck in the second over itself as he had K.L. Rahul stumped by Rishabh Pant for just 12. The score read 13/1 as Mayank Agarwal came in to join Chris Gayle.
But the partnership didn't last long as Kagiso Rabada ended Agarwal's struggle in the middle with a bouncer that climbed on him as he attempted the pull. Sherfane Rutherford completed an easy catch as the batsmen walked back to the dugout after making a 9-ball 2.
At the end of the powerplay, KXIP's score read 50/2 with Gayle still at the crease. But the Delhi Capitals bowlers had already tightened the screws on the visitors with some quality bowling and fielding.
The KXIP batsmen kept trying to up the ante and David Miller too failed to succeed as the Delhi bowlers kept piling the pressure with some disciplined bowling. In an attempt to hit Axar Patel out of the park, he hit one straight to Prithvi Shaw at the boundary and the opener didn't miss as Miller walked back for just 7. The score read 61/3 in the eighth over.
Mandeep walked in and joined Gayle who seemed to be batting on another wicket and kept tonking the ball from time to time to bring up another fifty in the tournament. Not looking to run too many singles, he focused majorly on hitting the boundaries.
But just when it looked like Gayle would take the game away with his power hitting, Lamichhane dismissed him, caught by Axar for a 37-ball 69. Colin Ingram caught the ball and as he was going over the rope, he threw it to Axar at long-on. Sam Curran followed four balls later, caught and bowled by Lamichhane for a duck.
With the score on 106/5, R. Ashwin walked in to join Mandeep in the 14th over of the innings. The two looked to finish with a flourish, but Axar sent back Mandeep (30) stumped by Pant in the 17th over. Having got a life on 21, Mandeep failed to capitalise on the situation.
Ashwin looked to provide the finishing touches as he hit a 14-ball 16, but he was dismissed in the 19th over as KXIP looked to score some quick runs.