The Delhi Capitals (DC) thrashed the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by 7 wickets to reaffirm their place as genuine Indian Premier League (IPL) title contenders this season. A steady, all-round bowling performance restricted KKR to a modest total, after which a marauding Prithvi Shaw breathed fire and ensured DC cantered home.
Put in to bat on a pitch which has seen low first-innings totals this season, KKR veered away from the attacking, risk-taking approach they employed in the previous game to their customary dour approach in the powerplay.
While Shubman Gill finally got runs, the low strike rates of KKR's top three, and ducks from Nos. 4 and 5, meant lower-order contributions couldn't give them a competitive total.
Shikhar Dhawan was reduced to a mere spectator as Shaw stole the show, and though Pat Cummins struck thrice, it only delayed a mauling.
Here are the top three reasons why KKR lost to DC on April 29.
#3 KKR's top five disappoint once more
After Nitish Rana's good early-season form that saw him hold the Orange Cap briefly, he has been a letdown for KKR.
Shubman Gill has not been able to convert his starts, and while Rahul Tripathi looks very good occasionally, he has not been consistent. Captain Eoin Morgan's struggles for form and the combined inadequacy of Shakib Al Hasan and Sunil Narine has led to underwhelming performances from the team.
Although the season started with a lack of faith in the abilities of the lower-middle order, the likes of Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik and Pat Cummins have looked good. However, their efforts are meaningless without a platform provided by the top five.
Personnel wise, it is hard to see what KKR could change - apart from dropping Narine a lot lower in the batting order - but they need a solution to salvage their season.
#2 DC's spinners control KKR's innings
DC's attack comprises one of last year's highest wicket-takers in Kagiso Rabada, Indian Test veteran Ishant Sharma - who troubled the top order in the last game - and the second-highest wicket-taker this season in Avesh Khan.
However, the bulk of the damage in the game was done by the spinners, Lalit Yadav and Axar Patel, despite the pitch not particularly supporting spin.
Playing in place of IPL legend Amit Mishra, Lalit was superb with the ball, conceding 13 off his three overs and bagging the scalps of Eoin Morgan and Sunil Narine. Axar Patel bowled smartly, and dismissed the attacking Nitish Rana and later Dinesh Karthik.
The DC spin duo conceded at less than a run a ball put together and dismissed the core of KKR's batting, after which the team found the going tough. In contrast, KKR's mystery spinners went wicketless and leaked runs at close to nine runs an over.
#1 Prithvi Shaw's stunning assault
Shivam Mavi had performed exceptionally with the new ball against the Punjab Kings, conceding just nine runs from his three powerplay overs. One couldn't fault KKR skipper Morgan, then, for hoping for the same against DC's openers, given Mavi's ability to control runs without relying on swing.
Prithvi Shaw, however, was in a menacing mood. After a first-ball wide, he attacked Mavi straight down the pitch and through the off-side gaps for six consecutive fours in the first over. To put it into perspective, the first over contributed nearly one-sixth of DC's entire target.
The effect of that over was a loosening of pressure, a stunning powerplay despite Dhawan's struggles at the other end, and eventually a comfortable win.