IPL 2021 is three weeks old now as the week that went by produced some intriguing matches.
Delhi Capitals (DC) were involved in two of the closest games of the tournament this season. They beat Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the first Super Over of IPL 2021 before going down to Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) by a solitary run.
The third week of action in IPL 2021 also saw Chennai Super Kings (CSK) end RCB’s unbeaten start to the tournament. Among other results, Punjab Kings (PBKS) registered two morale-boosting wins. They got the better of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by five wickets before stunning RCB by 34 runs.
After three weeks of action in IPL 2021, CSK are top of the pile with ten points from six games, ahead of DC and RCB, owing to their superior net run rate. The three-time champions have lost only one of their six matches this season. SRH, meanwhile, are at the other end of the spectrum, winning only one of their six games.
On that note, let's have a look at the three defining moments of the third week of action in IPL 2021:
#3 IPL 2021: DC vs RCB - Stoinis' 23-run over to De Villiers
This was a week where the last over of the first innings made a massive difference to the fortunes of teams.
Batting first in their IPL 2021 game against DC in Ahmedabad, RCB reached 148 for 5 after 19 overs and looked like they would get to 160.
DC captain Rishabh Pant, though, took a big risk by giving the last over to medium-pacer Marcus Stoinis, as he had not bowled all game. The move backfired big time.
The well-set AB de Villiers crunched three sixes off Stoinis to lift RCB to a highly competitive 171 for 5. With 23 runs coming off the 20th over, De Villiers finished on a brilliant 75 off 42 balls.
What happened next
DC faltered in their chase and slumped to 47 for 3 in the eighth over. The match seemed to be heading towards a comfortable win for RCB. However, Shimron Hetmyer came in and smashed an unbeaten 53 off only 25 balls, whacking four sixes during his blitzkrieg.
Pant, who had been struggling till then, also hit the last two balls for fours. But DC ended up losing by a solitary run, with Stoinis' big over coming back to haunt last season's finalists.
#2 IPL 2021: DC vs SRH - Axar Patel's twin strikes
DC left-arm spinner Axar Patel’s two wickets off as many balls hurt SRH in their pursuit of a 160-run target in an IPL 2021 match in Chennai. Although SRH kept losing wickets at one end, Kane Williamson batted beautifully to keep his team in the hunt.
After 16 overs, SRH were 117 for 4, but the next two balls completely swung the momentum of the game. On the first ball of the 17th over, Axar Patel trapped Abhishek Sharma lbw with a full delivery that beat the inside edge of the batsman and struck him in front of the wicket.
The very next ball saw Rashid Khan playing an ill-advised reverse-sweep. The batsman failed to connect and was pinged in front of his stumps as 117 for 4 became 117 for 6 in a matter of minutes, putting DC right on top.
What happened next
Williamson (66 not out off 51), with able support from Jagadeesha Suchith (14 not out off six), managed to take the match to a Super Over, though. However, Axar Patel, once again, stood in SRH’s way. He conceded only seven runs in the Super Over with his well-directed sliders, after which Shikhar Dhawan and Rishabh Pant chased down the eight-run target.
#1 IPL 2021: CSK vs RCB - Harshal Patel's 37-run over
In an IPL 2021 match between CSK and RCB in Mumbai, Virat Kohli’s men seemed to have things under control. After RCB won the toss and fielded first, CSK reached 154 for 4 after 19 overs. They looked set to finish with a competitive total but not a potentially match-winning one.
The last over bowled by RCB pacer Harshal Patel, though, changed the complexion of the game, not for good as far as RCB were concerned. CSK all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja slammed Patel for five sixes (one off a no-ball) and a four as a record-equalling 37 runs came off the last over.
Patel kept bowling in the slot to Jadeja, giving the left-hander room to open his arms, and was brutally punished. Four of the sixes came off consecutive deliveries as CSK jumped from 154 to 191, while Jadeja leaped from 26 to 62 in one over.
What happened next?
Stung by Jadeja’s blitzkrieg, RCB could not gather themselves and faltered with the bat. Jadeja starred with the ball and sizzled on the field as well. He claimed three wickets, including the big ones of AB de Villiers and Glenn Maxwell, as RCB only managed 122 for 9 in response.