Delhi Capitals captain Shreyas Iyer called the last two overs of their chase in the IPL eliminator against Sunrisers Hyderabad "like hell". In that time, Capitals saw a straightforward equation of 12 runs from 12 balls come down to two needed off the last two, with three wickets also falling in between.
Capitals were 151 for 5, chasing a target of 163, but lost Sherfane Rutherford, Rishabh Pant and Amit Mishra in the next ten balls, before Keemo Paul pulled Khaleel Ahmed for the winning boundary off the penultimate delivery. Capitals will now meet Chennai Super Kings in the second qualifier to decide who goes through to the final against Mumbai Indians.
"I can't express my emotions," Iyer said at the presentation ceremony, after Capitals had won their first ever IPL playoff or knockout match. "It was such a pressure situation. I was just sitting with my team-mates and it felt as if I've been sitting with them for years! Those last two overs it was like hell, to be honest.
"I could see the happiness in everyone's faces, and it was an amazing feeling to see them coming out and expressing themselves. Obviously, the joy we're going to share after victory is going to be really good. And yes, hoping for another one against Chennai. We're definitely not going to be intimidated by any team. Looking forward to the next game."
The chase for Capitals was set up by Prithvi Shaw's 56 off 38 at the top of the order, before Pant blasted 49 off 21 to take them to the brink of victory. Iyer said he didn't interfere with the instincts of the two young batsmen, preferring to let them express themselves.
"I personally feel they are the sort of batsmen you can't [try to] control," Iyer said. "You just have to leave them on their own and not say anything to them. Because if you say anything, it will play in their minds. When you stop a batsman like Rishabh or Prithvi, if you stop their flow, definitely they are not going to perform up to your expectation. Such situations if they go with their flow, they can win you matches, and it was really amazing to see both of them chipping in today and taking our team through."
Pant had blasted Basil Thampi for 22 runs in the 18th over, changing the complexion of the match and ensuring Capitals could get over the line despite their late collapse from 151 for 5 to 161 for 8. Pant himself was out in the 19th over, leaving Capitals five to get from seven balls.
"If you are set inside on a wicket like this you need to finish the match for the team. I took it very close, but in the end I couldn't finish the match. Next time I'll try to finish it for my team," Pant, the Player of the Match, said. "I just try to be positive every time I go in. If your mindset is negative, it's difficult to play your shots. Especially in T20 when you're set, and you need some 40 runs in four overs, you have to have a big over. That's what I did today. I didn't try to hit the ball too hard, I just took my time and in the end, I was just trying to time the ball and it went all my way today."
The pitch in Visakhapatnam was sticky, with the ball not coming on to the bat and scoring becoming more difficult after the Powerplay. Sunrisers got off to a good start after being put in, with Martin Guptill hitting a 19-ball 36, but Capitals pulled things back.
"The start they got was really good on this track. It was really tough to control Martin Guptill," Iyer said. "The way he carried on with this flow in the Powerplay, I think they got an above-par score. We controlled in between, especially Mishy bhai (Mishra) with that amazing spell, coming up and giving 15-odd runs I guess (1 for 16 in four overs). He was exceptionally good. The other bowlers came and chipped in with good economic bowling. Overall, really happy with the efforts of our bowlers. It was a good wicket to bat against the seamers, but 160 was a good total to defend on this wicket."