Stubbs gives Delhi IPL play-off hope with win in last league match

NEW DELHI: Fiery fifties from Abishek Porel and Tristan Stubbs helped Delhi Capitals sign off their IPL league phase on a high as they beat Lucknow Super Giants by 19 runs on Tuesday.

The win took Delhi to 14 points in 14 matches and they remain technically in the mix to reach the play-offs of the T20 tournament, but a run-rate in the negative keeps their chances slim.

"We are still in contention even after the last game," Delhi skipper Rishabh Pant said after he returned to lead the side following a one-match ban for slow over-rate.

"We had a better chance of qualifying if I would have had a chance to play in the last game (which Delhi lost)."

The left-handed Porel hit 58 before Stubbs smashed an unbeaten 57 off 25 balls to steer Delhi to 208-4 after being invited to bat first at their high-scoring home venue, Arun Jaitley Stadium.

Pant, a left-handed wicketkeeper-batsman, made 33 to cap off an impressive season after he came back in the IPL from a horror car crash in December 2022.

"Personally, it was fantastic to come back," said Pant, who has been picked in India's squad for the T20 World Cup next month.

"It was heartening to see the support from entire India. Was a long time to wait after one-and-a-half years. I want to be on the field all the time. Don't want to miss any action."

KL Rahul-led Lucknow have 12 points with one more match to play and have their hopes hanging by a thread.

The result confirmed a play-off spot for Rajasthan Royals, who became the second team to enter the final four alongside table-toppers Kolkata Knight Riders.

The top four teams make the play-offs. The final is on May 26 in Chennai.

Ishant Sharma led the bowling charge with three early wickets as Delhi restricted Lucknow to 189-9 despite valiant knocks from Nicholas Pooran, who smashed 61, and Arshad Khan, who hit an unbeaten 58.

Delhi lost attacking opener Jake Fraser-McGurk for a duck but Porel and Shai Hope, who struck 38, put on 92 runs to lay the foundations of the big total.

Delhi stuttered in the middle after they lost Porel, Hope and then Pant at regular intervals and Lucknow bowlers checked the flow of runs.

But Stubbs had other ideas and he hit back with a flurry of fours and sixes to fire Delhi past the 200 as the last three overs cost Lucknow 45 runs.

Lucknow suffered early blows after pace spearhead Ishant took down Rahul, for five, and Quinton de Kock, for 12, inside three overs.

Marcus Stoinis was stumped by Pant off spinner Axar Patel and Ishant, who was named man of the match, struck again to make Lucknow slip to 44-4.

Stubbs made it count with his off-spin as he sent back impact substitute Ayush Badoni out for six to end a 27-run partnership with Pooran.

The left-handed Pooran attempted to drive the chase in his 27-ball knock laced with six fours and four sixes but he left a lot to be done when he departed in the 12th over.

Number eight Arshad then raised hopes of a turnaround with his late charge as he raised his first T20 50 in 25 balls to give Delhi a scare.

Arshad kept losing partners as he continued the charge but in the end failed to match up the asking-rate.--AFP

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