MUMBAI: Devon Conway continued his red-hot form, smashing his third half-century on the trot as Chennai Super Kings put up an imposing 208 for 6 against Delhi Capitals in an IPL match here on Sunday.
Conway scored 87 off 49 balls with seven fours and five sixes and also added 110 for the opening wicket with Ruturaj Gaikwad (41 off 33 balls) to lay the foundation for a big score. Conway added another 59 runs for the second wicket with Shivam Dube (32 off 19 balls) before MS Dhoni (21 no off 8 balls) added insult to DC's injuries at the fag end.
The South Africa-born New Zealander has been one of the key players for an ageing CSK side in transition and has responded nicely to captain Dhoni's call of being a like-for-like replacement of Faf du Plessis.
What makes Conway a standout performer among most overseas recruits is his mastery over spinners which is an absolute must to be a consistent success in IPL.
Whether CSK make it to play-off this time or not, Conway in all likelihood will be serving the franchise for the next five years at least.
Along with Gaikwad, Conway showed how aesthetically pleasing stroke-play can destroy the confidence of rival bowlers. There weren't any lap-scoops, switch hits, reverse flicks but shots within the 'V' with immaculate use of feet wile negotiating the spinners. It did help that DY Patil Stadium track resembled a highway due to its flat nature.
Kuldeep Yadav's (3-0-43-0) length was completely in disarray as Conway repeatedly came down the ground to loft the deliveries with disdain.
If the delivery was flighted, Conway would come down the track and hit it down the ground or wide of long-on. If the bowler kept it flat, he would thump it through the covers and if it was fast an full, he would play the conventional sweep shot over deep square leg. The shot that stood out was a cover drive which was more like a slap with minimal back-lift.
Conway's third consecutive fifty came off 27 balls as poor Kuldeep had no clue as to what had hit him. His deliveries were like cannon fodder as he was hit for four fours and two sixes in his first spell.
Conway repeated his 'dancing down the track' act in Kuldeep's second spell with another lofted six.
It didn't help matters that Antich Nortje (4-0-42-3) and Shardul Thakur (3-0-38-0) bowled short during their first spell with Khaleel Ahmed (2/28 in 4 overs) being the only saving grace.
Conway's brutal yet classical assault gave Gaikwad time to gather his composure and play his own game at the other end as CSK reached 100 off 10 overs.
Finally, Gaikwad (41 off 33 balls) was dismissed when DC stuck to their gameplan and the opener was left in a tangle trying to tackle to a 152 kmph bouncer hurled by Nortje.