Pyrotechnics with the bat from the Kolkata Knight Riders duo of Eoin Morgan and Rahul Tripathi went in vain on Saturday evening as the Delhi Capitals picked up a 17-run win in the 16th match of IPL 2020 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
With KKR well and truly staring down the barrel at the 15th over mark while chasing 229, it was a special show of big-hitting from Morgan (18-ball 44) and Tripathi (16-ball 36) that kept their side's hopes alive until the final over.
At 137/6 and with five overs to go, it all seemed a little too much to do for KKR, but the Morgan-Tripathi pair put up a 78-run stand from just five overs to set the cat among the pigeons in the DC camp.
Eventually, Morgan and Tripathi were dismissed in the 19th and 20th overs respectively, which shut the door on any hopes of a KKR win.
While the KKR batsmen put up a show towards the end, Sunil Narine's miseries at the top of the order continued even into this game as he was castled by Nortje in just the second over.
Nitish Rana walked out to the middle and slammed two sixes off Ravichandran Ashwin's first over, before Shubman Gill collected one four and a six off the next over bowled by Nortje.
The DC bowlers managed to pull things back a fair bit with Amit Mishra and Ravichandran Ashwin bowling in tandem. Gill was sent back by Mishra on the first ball of the 8th over, and in walked big Jamaican all-rounder Andre Russell, with KKR needing in excess of 13 RPO.
The burly all-rounder smashed a four and a six off the 10th over bowled by Kagiso Rabada, but the South African pacer had the last laugh, inducing a top edge with a bouncer as the catch was pouched safely by Nortje at third man.
Post Russell's dismissal, runs were hard to come by for KKR, and Harshal Patel's twin strikes in the 13th over all but sealed the game in DC's favour. The seamer first removed Rana (58) and then Karthik (6) to pile pressure on the batting side, and with five overs left to spare, KKR needed 92 runs to win.
Although DC had the upper hand, Tripathi and Morgan looked in really good striking form as they collected 24 runs off the 17th over bowled by Marcus Stoinis, while Kagiso Rabada was taken for three sixes and a four in the 18th over.
With 31 runs needed off the last 12 balls, Nortje delivered a superb over, dismissing Morgan and giving away just five runs, leaving KKR 26 to get off the final over bowled by Stoinis.
And, while Tripathi managed to collect a boundary off the first ball, he was castled by a fantastic yorker on the second delivery. Eventually, KKR fell short by 17 runs.
Delhi Capitals batsmen make merry in Sharjah
Asked to bat first by KKR spinner Dinesh Karthik, the Capitals' openers got off to a terrific start as they crossed the 50-run mark towards the end of just the 5th over.
Just as it looked like Shikhar Dhawan would finally notch up a big score in IPL 2020, he skied a delivery from Varun Chakravarthy to Eoin Morgan and departed for a 16-ball 26 off the fifth ball of the 6th over.
DC skipper Iyer joined Shaw out in the middle, and the runs did dry up for a couple of overs as Andre Russell gave away just seven runs from his first two overs combined.
At the halfway stage, DC's scorecard read 89/1 with Shaw well set on a 33-ball 46. A 16-run 11th over from Kamlesh Nagarkoti got the engines running for DC as the bowlers started bleeding fours and sixes.
Shaw's attempt to go after every ball brought about his downfall though, with the young opener toe-ending a ball from Nagarkoti to Gill at long-on and walking back to the pavilion for a 41-ball 66.
Talented southpaw Rishabh Pant survived a run-out chance off the first ball he played and took some time to settle in, taking eight balls to score his first ten runs. With five overs left though, the spotlight was all on the Iyer-Pant duo as they collected 50 runs from the next 17 balls and guided DC over the 200-run mark.
Karthik's gamble to toss the ball to Chakravarthy failed to shift the momentum in KKR's favour, with Iyer collecting 19 runs to his name with two sixes and a four in the over.
Eventually, a 7-run 20th over from Russell was the only saving grace for KKR as, by then, DC had done all the damage with the bat.
IPL 2020: DC v KKR, Who won man of the match yesterday?
The Delhi Capitals were put in to bat by KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik, and their batsmen made the most of the conditions and short boundaries on offer.
While Prithvi Shaw's half-century set the tone for the innings at the top of the order, it was DC captain Shreyas Iyer's wide array of shots towards the end of the innings that helped his side set KKR a record 229-run target.
Iyer did take his time to settle down and get a feel of the conditions early on, scoring just 17 runs off the first 11 balls he faced. However, he opened up and looked to up the ante post the 10th over, and finished on 88* off just 38 balls with seven fours and six sixes.
And, for his top knock that gave DC all the momentum, he was named the Man of the Match for yesterday's IPL game.