Ahmad Shah Durrani (Ahmad Shah Abdali), angered by the news from his son and his allies, was unwilling to allow the Marathas' spread go unchecked. By the end of 1759 Abdali with his Afghan tribes, his Baloch allies, and his Rohilla ally Najib Khan had reached Lahore as well as Delhi and defeated the smaller enemy garrisons. Ahmed Shah, at this point, withdrew his army to Anupshahr, on the frontier of the Rohilla country, where he successfully convinced the Nawab of Oudh Shuja-ud-Daula to join his alliance against the Marathas. The Marathas had earlier helped Safdarjung (father of Shuja) in defeating Rohillas in Farrukhabad.
Portrait of Ahmad Shah Durrani
The Marathas under Sadashivrao Bhau responded to the news of the Afghans' return to North India by raising an army, and they marched North. Bhau's force was bolstered by some Maratha forces under Holkar, Scindia, Gaikwad and Govind Pant Bundele. Suraj Mal (the Jat ruler of Bharatpur) also had joined Bhausaheb initially. This combined army captured the Mughal capital, Delhi, from an Afghan garrison in December 1759. Delhi had been reduced to ashes many times due to previous invasions, and in addition there being acute shortage of supplies in the Maratha camp. Bhau ordered the sacking of the already depopulated city. He is said to have planned to place his nephew and the Peshwa's son, Vishwasrao, on the Delhi throne. The Jats withdrew their support from the Marathas. Their withdrawal from the ensuing battle was to play a crucial role in its result. Abdali drew first blood by attacking a small Maratha army led by Dattaji Shinde at Burari Ghat. Dattaji was killed in the battle.