‘Lions’ tamed in their own ‘den’ : Daredevilry by the young 18-year old Rishabh Pant, helped his team Delhi Dardevils (DD) ‘tame’ the Gujarat Lions (GL) in their own backyard at Rajkot.
A whirlwind innings of 69 runs off just 40 balls studded with 9 fours and 2 sixes at a massive strike rate of 172.50 and his first wicket partnership of 115 runs in 13.3 overs alongwith the wicket-keeper, Quinton de Kock (46), put paid to all the hopes of the home team’s dream of registering their seventh victory in 9 games.
Putting GL into bat, the DD bowlers did justice to their skipper’s decision of bowling first by restricting the home team to a small total of 149 runs for the loss of 7 wickets in 20 overs.
GL batsmen struggled all through, losing their star opener, Brendon McCullum (1) in the third over. Surviving a very close ‘leg before’ appeal in the very first over, McCullum failed to make it big.
Zaheer Khan bowled a cutter and Brendon trying to pull, missed the ball which went on to damage the furniture behind.
The other opener, Dwayne Smith (15) also did not last long, as Shahbaz Nadeem bowled one short, sliding back into the middle. Smith tried to punch it down the ground but only succeeded in giving a simple catch to Chris Morris at long-on.
Aaron Finch (5), who had replaced the injured Dwayne Bravo, into the Playing XI, could not make any impact as, Nadeem, in the same over had him caught by Rishabh Pant at short-fine leg, by nicely tossing one upto Finch and forcing him to play.
Thereafter it was upto Suresh Rains and Dinesh Karthik to steady the innings. The two came together at the time when the team had scored only 24 runs for the loss of 3 wickets in 6 overs.
They played good cricket and added 51 runs for the fourth wicket. Raina, while on 24 runs, stepped out to drive a slide delivery from Amit Mishra, missed completely and Quinton de Kock, from behind the stumps successfully, dislodged the bails.
Dinesh Karthik brought up his second half-century of this season in 42 balls with 5 fours. Alongwith Ravindra Jadeja, he added 52 runs for the fifth wicket in 6.3 overs before a full, straight delivery on the off-stump by Mohd Shami, saw Karthik, play it a little early, only to have his off-stump knocked out.
DK made 53 runs in 43 balls with 5 fours.
Jadeja’s unbeaten 36* runs off 26 deliveries with 4 fours and a six, enabled GL to finish their innings one run short of 150, losing 7 wickets in the process.
For DD, except JP Duminy (2-0-14-0) all other bowlers, Morris, Khan, Shami and Mishra claimed a wicket each, while Nadeem bagged 2 wickets.
Target of 150 was not a big chase, as the DD openers, de Kock and Pant took them virtually to the doorstep of victory.
The unbroken third-wicket partnership of 29* runs between Sanju Samson (19*) and JP Duminy (13*) took them to the target with ease as DD registered their fifth win in seven games and moved to the second spot on the points table.
Rishabh Pant, who brought his maiden IPL half-century in 25 balls with 8 fours and a six, was awarded the Player of the Match.
Speaking at the post match presentation, the young Pant said, “It”s pleasure playing for this team. I”m a youngster, and it”s great to receive the support of the captain and coach. It”s great to play under Rahul Dravid.”
A disappointed GL skipper, Suresh Raina, said, “It”s disappointing. We didn”t bat well in the first six overs, which I thought cost us the game. Dwayne Bravo”s variation and knowledge of T20 cricket was missed. We still have a long way to go. I want to thank the crowd here in Rajkot for backing us. We chased well here, but sometimes here, you don”t really know how many runs you have to put on the board. We don”t have to panic, we will have a few meetings and see how it goes.”
Zaheer Khan, skipper of DD, visibly upbeat on his team’s performance, said, “I”m just trying to keep up with young energy around me. The effort on the field needs to be applauded. The focus is on giving everyone freedom to express themselves and allow them to play the brand of cricket they best know. We take into consideration lot of factors, and go in to each and every game with a specific plan. The guys who are not playing understand that. A happy team is a winning team, and that”s what you are seeing. Rishabh Pant was amazing, batting with Quinton would have helped. We have two back-to-back games, so the idea is to just let the boys do what they want to do tonight and then regroup.”