Shreyas Iyer held his nerve and R. Ashwin provided the much-needed support to aid Delhi Capitals virtually ensure a top-two finish and deal Mumbai Indians’ campaign a big blow in the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Saturday.

On a slowish strip at Sharjah that continued to be nightmarish for batters, Delhi Capitals restricted the defending champion to a sub-par 129 for eight. Despite the Mumbai Indians bowlers reducing Delhi to 93 for six, Shreyas (33*, 33b, 2×4) and Ashwin (20*, 21b, 1×6) registered the highest partnership of the match (39* off 36 balls) to see their team home.

MI vs DC – AS IT HAPPENED

Change of pace was the motto for pacers on a sultry afternoon. When Shimron Hetmyer joined a spreee of batsmen to fall in the trap, top-edging Jasprit Bumrah to Rohit Sharma at covers, Delhi was in a spot of bother. With 37 required in 41 balls and six batters back in the hut, Shreyas hoped for Ashwin to hang in there with him.

With little pressure of scoring rate, the duo played risk-free cricket, with Shreyas exploting every loose ball offered by Nathan Coulter-Nile and Bumrah. Ashwin fittingly finished the match off the first ball of the last over, a slog sweep off left-arm spinner Krunal Pandya that sailed over the fence for his first boundary.

Earlier in the afternoon, change of venue did not change Mumbai Indians’ mediocre performance with the willow. Playing its first game in Sharjah, MI had no answers to the well-oiled Capitals bowling unit.

While Avesh Khan’s pace turned out to be too hot to handle for the MI at the start and the death, Anrich Nortje’s back-of-the-hand slower balls had the high-profile batting line-up bamboozled. Axar Patel’s spin did the trick in the middle overs as he dismissed Quinton de Kock, Suryakumar Yadav and Saurabh Tiwary to expose the lower middle-order to face the pacers’ music yet again.

Had it not been for Jayant Yadav, who replaced Rahul Chahar, and Krunal tonking a six each off Ashwin in the last over, MI would have struggled to set a target of 130. But the Chennai charmer made up for his bowling with a courageous display with the bat to help the Capitals continue its stupendous run.

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