As Titans walked past the target with 11 balls and six wickets to spare, Sai Sudarshan’s unbeaten 48-ball 62 and David Miller’s unbeaten 16-ball 31 gave a lesson for Capitals in dealing with raw pace. Anrich Nortje threatened to derail the Titans chase up front by castling Shubman Gill and Wriddhiman Saha. But Sudarshan’s composure negated the Nortje threat who ended with figures of 2/39 in his four overs.
If there was a season the Capitals would not have wanted a Kotla pitch with decent pace and carry, it would be this one when their Indian batting resources have looked inept at handling seam and pace. Captain David Warner, aware of the threat posed by the likes of Shami, Joseph, Joshua Little and Hardik Pandya, chose to play a cautious knock up front during his innings of 37 off 32 balls. The runs only came when the Titans bowlers, looking to feast on the timid Capitals batting, sprayed the ball around. In essence, the hosts were trounced by the bounce.
There were 14 extras conceded in the Powerplay but that was the least of Titans’ concern. They went for the kill and ripped apart the top order through Shami claiming Prithvi Shaw and Mitch Marsh. Titans came with a simple plan. They didn’t mind giving away a few runs. They were out to intimidate the unsure batting.
As It Happened
As expected, Capitals had to rely on Axar Patel’s ever-improving batting skills to cross the 150-run mark with his 22-ball 36 along with debutant wicketkeeper Abhishek Porel’s 11-ball 20.
Shami dented the already-bruised ego of Capitals along with Joseph. Such was the pace attack’s impact that Rashid Khan was made to play the second fiddle—a rarity in T20 cricket. Rashid wasn’t going to be the loose end in this perfectly-knit attack. Like he always does, he stifled the Capitals and ended up with 3/31.
For all the talk around Prithvi and Sarfaraz Khan’s dominance in domestic cricket, it has been evident why the national selectors have been reluctant to pick them. Prithvi was again found out by Shami’s sharp bouncer that ended at mid-on. During his 34-ball 30, Sarfaraz looked late on the ball against the pacers. Most of his runs seemed to come behind square. A couple of shots down the ground lacked any timing and was put down. In reply, Sudarshan absorbed the pressure along with Vijay Shankar’s 23-ball 29.
The classical Test-match back-of-a-length with a little nip off the pitch was enough to expose the technical deficiencies of the Capitals batting. There was a phase inside the first 10 overs when the Capitals physio started making trips to the pitch to check on their batters. Sarfaraz and Porel were clearly shaken by Joseph and Pandya before he had Rilee Rossow out fending to backward point off the first ball.
Capitals’ over-dependence on Warner, Marsh and Axar has chained them. They are wary of going hard at opposition bowling. Axar, during his brief stay, showed how one could tackle international quality bowling. The clarity in his stroke-making stood out from the rest. It’s just that he has been left with too much to do.