Two players with points to prove combined to see Delhi Capitals to victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad that took them back to the top of the Indian Premier League table.
Shikhar Dhawan and Shreyas Iyer have both been overlooked for the India squad for the T20 World Cup, starting next month in the UAE.
And yet, just as they did last year during Delhi’s run to the IPL final, they showed they are well suited to the prevailing conditions, on their return to the Dubai International Stadium.
Thanks to the two, Delhi made light work of chasing the target of 135 which the beleaguered Hyderabad side had set them.
First, Dhawan made an easy-paced 42 before miscuing a sweep off Rashid Khan.
Then Iyer, who has also been displaced as his side’s captain by Rishabh Pant after injury meant he missed the first part of this tournament, made 47 not out, and sealed the win with more than two overs to spare.
For their part, Hyderabad must already be wondering why they bothered making the trip across the Arabian Sea for the resumption of the IPL.
When the league was halted in May, they were bottom of the table with just a single win to their name from seven matches, and a playoff place miles off.
Even before returning to the playing field in Dubai, things started conspiring against them.
Just before the first ball was due to be bowled against Delhi, it was announced T Natarajan had tested positive for Covid.
The left-arm quick had been one of the stars of Hyderabad’s run to the qualifier final in the UAE in 2020, and even ended the year in the India team.
He has been confined to isolation now, though. The Covid safety precautions have meant others will have to sit time out too.
One other player, Vijay Shankar, has been identified by medical staff as a close contact, along with five members of the team’s support staff.
Although the rest of the contingent returned negative results, their sluggish start to the game belied the fact they had all had 5am wake up calls for their PCR tests.
David Warner’s miserable season continued with a three-ball duck at the top of the Hyderabad innings.
Their batsmen were well shackled throughout by a combination of the pace of Kagiso Rabada, who took three wickets, and Anrich Nortje, who took two, while Axar Patel also took two with his left arm spin.
Even Rashid Khan was unable to raise Hyderabad. He made 22 with the bat, then returned tidy enough figures of one for 26 from his four overs.
But his side needed a Rashid Khan special if they were to stand any chance of defending. It did not happen.
Iyer sealed the eight-wicket win in emphatic fashion, with an uncharacteristically vicious swipe for six off Jason Holder. The victory lifts last year’s runners up above Chennai Super Kings at the top of the table.