Tristan Stubbs, Ishant Sharma help Delhi Capitals beat Lucknow, result seals Rajasthan Royals' place for IPL 2024 playoffs

There was an end-of-season feel during Delhi Capitals' final league match of this year's IPL against Lucknow Super Giants on Tuesday. With a relatively small crowd and neither team's chances of making the playoffs looking particularly bright, the hosts registered a 19-run victory at the Arun Jaitley Stadium.

Delhi Capitals bowlers Ishant Sharma, Axar Patel and Rasikh Salam appeal for dismissal (IPL-X)

Delhi's victory was set up by Abhishek Porel and Tristan Stubbs' half-centuries, which helped them reach 208/4 after being sent down. Lucknow finished at 189/9 as fast fifties from Nicholas Pooran and Arshad Khan proved insufficient. Delhi are virtually out of the playoff race while Lucknow's chances are also slim after this defeat. The result helped Rajasthan Royals confirm their place in the playoffs.

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Lucknow's response started disastrously as KL Rahul, Quinton de Kock, Marcus Stoinis and Deepak Hooda fell in the first five overs. Ishant Sharma inflicted early damage with the new ball, taking three wickets in a three-over opening spell that lasted for 23 runs. The task of restarting the prosecution therefore fell exclusively to Nicholas Pooran. Coming in at 24/2 in the fourth over, the Trinidad left-handed batter immediately tore through Axar Patel to knock out 20 runs off his first five deliveries, relishing the ball spinning into his leg-side hitting arc.

With the asking rate increasing, Pooran managed to maintain that initial momentum for a 20-ball half-century. Among them was a reverse sweep off Kuldeep Yadav which crossed the extra cover boundary for six.

If only to keep the contest alive, Pooran had to bat much longer than the 12th over when his departure from Mukesh Kumar was abruptly caught by Axar at cover.

For the fifth consecutive match in Delhi this season, the team batting first made over 200. Porel and Shai Hope made up for the early dismissal of Jake Fraser-McGurk by mustering 92 runs for the second wicket in just 49 deliveries. Porel led the charge as he raced to 50 off 21 balls. Twice in similar fashion by Naveen-ul-Haq, Porel pulled short balls over fine leg for sixes, the ball sailing towards the second level on the second occasion.

After enjoying Yudhvir Singh's medium pace in a 16-run fourth over, Hope hit Ravi Bishnoi flat into the advertising hoarding at long-on for his second six. When he tried to take cover in the same way, he only managed to find Rahul.

The LSG spinners, however, managed to slow down the scoring rate once the field spread out. The mounting pressure seemed to get to Porel as he tried to attack Naveen as soon as he was brought down in the 12th over. The ball was short and there to be struck even though the Afghan bowler had slowed down, but Porel didn't quite get the pull this time and holed out to Pooran at deep mid-wicket.

From 73/1 in six overs to 136/3 in 15, Delhi did not really benefit from this powerful start. After recovering nine balls to get to seven, Stubbs decided to go for the final five. Clearly more comfortable against pace than spin, Stubbs bowled left-arm pacer Arshad Khan for a six and two fours. While a long ball was hit to a long ball for six, a fuller ball was reversed between the wicketkeeper and short third for a four.

Stubbs ensured that Delhi crossed the 200-mark while showing off his incredible range. Naveen bore the brunt of a 21-run 19th over with at least three shots worthy of inclusion in Stubbs' highlights for the season. The first was a Federer-style forehand that raced to the long defender's right for four. Then there was a toss for six over long on, the ball appearing to kiss the night sky before settling into the stands, then another six came with an inside-out drive that also brought his half century.

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