Kuldeep, Fraser-McGurk and Pant join forces to lift Capitals out of last spot

'Kuldeep bowled the perfect ball to Pooran' (2:01)

Is Kuldeep India's No. 1 T20I spinner? "Without a doubt," says Wasim Jaffer (2:01)

Delhi Capitals 170 for 4 (Fraser-McGurk 55, Pant 41, Shaw 32, Bishnoi 2-25) beat Lucknow Super Giants 167 for 7 (Badoni 55*, Rahul 39, Kuldeep 3-20, Khaleel 2-41) by six wickets

Delhi Capitals ended Lucknow Super Giants' stranglehold on 160-plus defences and lifted themselves off the bottom of the IPL 2024 table with a six-wicket win in Lucknow on Friday. Kuldeep Yadav provided the inspiration on his return from injury before a sparkling half-century on IPL debut from Australia's Jake Fraser-McGurk saw them reel in their target with 11 balls to spare.

After choosing to bat, LSG produced a stuttering innings that still finished above the 160-mark - from which they had never lost when batting first. KL Rahul gave them a fast start with 39 off 22 before Kuldeep ripped out the guts of their line-up in the space of his first nine balls. Rahul's dismissal by Kuldeep left LSG 77 for 5 and their position got worse before it got better.

With the score 94 for 7 after 13 overs, DC appeared to be on course for a walkover. But Ayush Badoni's 31-ball fifty and an unbroken stand of 73 with Arshad Khan - an IPL record for the eighth wicket - at least gave LSG's vaunted spin attack something to bowl at.

DC, on a run of four defeats in five, might have wondered if their chance had gone. Prithvi Shaw gave the chase a punchy start to settle some of the nerves and then it was over to Fraser-McGurk, the 22-year-old from Melbourne, to provide the fireworks. His first scoring shot was a wallop for six over deep midwicket and he cleared the ropes four more times to raise his half-century from 31 balls. He and Rishabh Pant departed after a stand of 77 off 46 but by then DC were well on track.

Fraser-McGurk continues stunning rise

It is only six months since Fraser-McGurk grabbed headlines worldwide by breaking AB de Villiers' record for the fastest List A hundred when he reached the mark off just 29 balls while batting for South Australia. Remarkably, that was his first century in professional cricket, but he enjoyed a breakthrough summer that culminated in him being capped during Australia's ODI series against West Indies. He hit his third ball on debut for four, his fourth for six, and then was out to his fifth.

Coming in at No. 3 in Lucknow, following the dismissal of David Warner by Yash Thakur, he stayed true to first principles. His second ball was swatted insouciantly off the front foot over midwicket - a shot his DC coach, Ricky Ponting, would doubtless have enjoyed - and he then launched an even bigger hit over wide long-on from his fifth.

Another slash for four took him to 16 off seven (with three scoring shots) before the arrival of the LSG spinners to present a new challenge.

A slowdown duly followed, with nine runs coming from his next 16 balls. But just when the game appeared to be back in the balance, Fraser-McGurk let loose against Krunal Pandya, carting him over midwicket, extra cover and long-off for three consecutive sixes that effectively put a nail in the home side's chances.

Pant leads from the front

Amid Capitals' struggles, Pant has carried a particularly heavy burden: captain, wicketkeeper and star batter, and all this after more than a year out of the game after a car crash. His anguished chat with umpire Rohan Pandit during the LSG innings, having unsuccessfully tried to review a wide - Pant seeming to say he hadn't reviewed it in the first place - summed up how things have been going.

But after Ravi Bishnoi dismissed Shaw, via a superb diving catch in the deep from Nicholas Pooran, Pant played an astute hand. After ticking along initially, and with Fraser-McGurk becalmed, he skipped out to his 12th delivery to launch Bishnoi down the ground for an enormous straight six, following it up with a smash through the covers for four. Two more boundaries came in Marcus Stoinis' over, including an audacious reverse-scoop, to keep DC up with the rate before Fraser-McGurk unleashed.

The requirement was below a run a ball by the time Fraser-McGurk carved to deep third and although Pant was stumped in the next over, charging at Bishnoi, the hard work had been done.

Rahul rules early exchanges

LSG have a tried-and-trusted template for batting first and looked to be well on track at the end of the powerplay. Quinton de Kock took a brace of fours off the opening over, Rahul's third ball was emphatically thrashed over cover for a flat six, and although Khaleel Ahmed hit back to remove de Kock and Devdutt Padikkal - who extended his run of single-figure scores in an LSG shirt to five - there was no sense of panic in the stands (although things might have been different if Khaleel had held on to a sharp return catch off Stoinis' first ball).

Rahul responded by punching Khaleel back down the ground for four, before finding the boundary twice more off Mukesh Kumar as LSG ended the powerplay comfortably on 57 for 2. Ominously for DC, Rahul's 30 off 14 represented his joint-highest six-over score for LSG.

Kuldeep back with a bang-bang

Capitals' premier wristspinner had missed their last three games with a groin injury but he immediately grabbed the LSG innings by the throat. Stoinis was unable to make the most of his early reprieve, slicing a googly to backward point to give Kuldeep a wicket with his third ball. The next delivery was even better, another expertly disguised wrong'un duping LSG's leading run-scorer Pooran, who played all around the ball to lose his off stump.

In his second over, Kuldeep snuffed out Rahul's punchy knock, too - a review confirming a thin edge behind as the LSG captain attempted to cut a quicker, wide delivery. With impact sub Deepak Hooda top-edging tamely to point and Krunal gloving a Mukesh bouncer behind, LSG had slumped to 94 for 7 and were seemingly in deep trouble.

Jaffer: Badoni continues to surprise us

Wasim Jaffer and Mitchell McClenaghan on Badoni's rescue act against DC

Badoni finishes like Dhoni

The LSG innings went six full overs without a boundary as the middle order crumbled, but Badoni and Arshad steadily resurrected their chances. Badoni ended the drought with back-to-back fours off Mukesh, pulled fine and slapped over backward point, but otherwise focused on hoovering up ones and twos against the spin of Kuldeep and Axar Patel.

With the return of pace for the 18th, Badoni decided it was time to go. Khaleel was duly smoked over deep midwicket for six, before Arshad followed suit by muscling his first boundary over mid-off. The No. 9 was dropped by Shaw off the final ball of the over, to compound Khaleel's pain. Badoni lofted and then swept Mukesh on the way to a 31-ball fifty in the 19th, as the eighth-wicket pair successfully drove LSG above the 160-mark. This time, however, the magic deserted them.

DC 2nd innings Partnerships

1st24DA WarnerPP Shaw
2nd39PP ShawJ Fraser-McGurk
3rd77RR PantJ Fraser-McGurk
4th6T StubbsRR Pant
5th24SD HopeT Stubbs

Indian Premier League