Indian Premier League 2020
Stoinis flourishes again to steer Delhi to another win
Marcus Stoinis logs another all-round starring role in his resurgence as a T20 middle-order monster as the Delhi Capitals beat Steve Smith's Rajasthan Royals
Dave Middleton with AP
10 October 2020, 08:12 AM AEST
Marcus Stoinis has again played a match-defining role in the Indian Premier League to continue his resurgence as T20 a middle-order finisher, leading the Delhi Capitals to a big win overnight.
Stoinis clubbed four sixes in a brisk innings of 39 and then two key wickets to help the Delhi Capitals defeat the Steve Smith-led Rajasthan Royals by 46 runs in Sharjah.
The third straight win lifted the Ricky Ponting-coached Delhi to the top of the table, while Rajasthan suffered a fourth straight defeat ahead of Ben Stokes clearing quarantine this weekend.
For Stoinis, it's the third match he's been instrumental in helping Delhi secure the win from the middle order, an improvement that will no doubt please Australia coach Justin Langer with a T20 World Cup, to be played in India, just 12 months away.
Stoinis now has 162 runs at 40.5 from his six games in the middle order for Delhi this season, with two fifties, and a strike rate above 176. He is on track for a career-best year in the IPL in his fifth season playing in the tournament, and has been mentioned in early discussions about the tournament's most valuable player.
It marks a rapid evolution in both role and performance for Stoinis, who had been cut adrift from the national set-up after underwhelming in last year's 50-over World Cup, only to storm back in recent weeks.
The burly 31-year-old, who last summer topped the KFC BBL run-scoring charts as an opener with the Melbourne Stars, had been seen as a top-order option only for the national set-up, where he was behind the likes of David Warner, Aaron Finch and Steve Smith for a spot in the top three.
Last month, just days before Australia's limited-overs series against England began, Langer said Stoinis was best suited to the top order. Yet in the opening T20, he lined up at No.5 in a surprise move, smacked 23 from 18 balls, and narrowly fell short of steering Australia to a final-over win amid a middle-order collapse.
Australia vice-captain Pat Cummins spoke after that first game of the national team's need to find a middle-order closer in the mould of MS Dhoni, with Stoinis to be given a run at that position.
"You could argue that middle-order role is one of the hardest in any cricket team. That's what we've identified, we've got to give guys a go," Cummins said at the time.
"We know it's not going to happen overnight. That's been a common theme that selectors and Finchy have spoken about: we'll identify roles and give them a long run in that. I think we've got the right squad, the right players, it's about getting plenty of games into everyone now."
Stoinis hit 35 from 26 to be Australia's second top-scorer in a chastening defeat in the second T20, again batting at No.5, before a rejig of the line-up in the bubble environment saw him elevated to No.3 for the third match where he scored 26 from 18.
With Ponting's Capitals, he blasted 53 from 21 balls in their IPL opener, run out pushing for a second off the final ball, having played an innings-defining knock that lifted his side from 3-13 to 8-157.
Then with the ball, he took wickets from the final two balls to keep Kings XI tied down, forcing a Super Over that Delhi won.
Stoinis then struck an unbeaten 53 from 26 balls fromNo.5 as Delhi steamrollered over Virat Kohli's Royal Challengers Bangalore, an innings that Finch, the Bangalore opener, saw from close quarters.
Last night's 39 runs came from 30 balls, including three big sixes against off-spinner Shreyas Gopal, before top-edging Rahul Tewatia, helping lift Delhi to 8-184.
Shimron Hetmyer also starred for Delhi with 45 and then taking two catches in the deep, while Jofra Archer claimed three wickets and Ravi Ashwin added 2-22.
Rajasthan, in reply, fell to 5-82 after 12.1 overs, with Smith out for 24 hitting to midwicket, and were bowled out for 138 with two balls left. Stoinis played his part with his medium pacers, dismissing Sanju Samson and Yashasvi Jaiswal in his two overs.
A disappointed Smith said afterwards: "We're not playing good enough over the full 40 overs. We are doing some good things in patches, but unfortunately not executing well under pressure.
"We gave away 10 to 15 runs too many. Ben Stokes comes out of quarantine tomorrow, we play the day after. He hasn't had any practice. So we will need to have a chat around that."