Delhi Daredevils batsman Rishabh Pant (L) his half century (50 runs) with his team batsman Sanju Samson(R) during the 2017 Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Delhi Daredevils and Gujarat Lions at the Feroz Shah Kotla Cricket Stadium. Pic/AFP
Rishabh Pant, Sanju Samson smashed scintillating half-centuries to power Delhi Daredevils to ensure that the hosts cruised to an easy seven-wicket win over Gujarat Lions at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium on Thursday.
Chasing a stiff target of 209 to win, Pant and Samson decimated the Gujarat attack as they both scored half-centuries. Pant fell agonising short of a well-deserved century, but by then the target was within walking distance.
Young Pant's sensational 43-ball 97 ensured that the Delhi Daredevils keep their IPL play-off hopes alive.
The 19-year-old Pant butchered the Lions bowling attack with some power hitting, blasting six fours and nine sixes in his match-winning innings.
The wicket-keeper batsman from Uttarakhand forged a 143-run partnership off 63 balls for the second wicket with Samson (61 off 31 balls) to take Daredevils on the threshold of victory.
After they departed, Shreyas Iyer (14) and Corey Anderson (18) took Delhi home with 15 balls to spare to ignite hopes of grabbing a berth at the IPL play-off.
Earlier, crafty knocks by skipper Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik helped Gujarat posted a challenging 208/7.
Raina (77) and Karthik (65) came to the crease when the visitors were reeling at 10/2 in the second over. But sensible innings from the duo helped Gujarat to get out of troubled waters.
Gujarat got off to a poor start as they lost swash-buckling openers Dwayne Smith (9) and Brendon McCullum (1) in the second over of the innings.
McCullum was the first one to depart. The New Zealand batsman got an outside edge off pacer Kagiso Rabada and Rishabh Pant then completed the rest of the formality by taking a superb catch.
Off the very next ball, Shabaz Nadeem did a brilliant job in the field, coming up with an accurate direct throw to dismiss Smith.
With the visitors reeling at 10/2, incoming batsmen Raina and Karthik then stepped up to tackle the situation and thrashed the Delhi bowlers all around the park.
The duo forged a brilliant 133-run partnership for the third wicket before Raina was run out by Rabada in the 14th over. A slight miscommunication between Karthik and Raina helped Delhi to break the partnership.
In-form batsman Aaron Finch (27) then joined Karthik and both batsmen tried to rev up the innings. But soon Karthik was sent back to the pavilion by pacer Pat Cummins.
While trying to play over mid-off, Karthik mistimed the ball and Correy Anderson took a stunning one-handed catch to dismiss the Delhi wicketkeeper.
With the score at 158/4 in 15 overs, middle-order batsman Ishan Kishan (4), who joined Finch, failed to click as he was also dismissed by Cummins in the 18th over.
With two overs remaining, Finch played some good strokes and he was also supported by Ravindra Jadeja (18) but just when things seemed good for the visitors, Finch was caught at fine leg. Wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant took a diving catch off Rabada to dismiss the Australian batsman.
James Faulkner was also dismissed in the last over by Corey Anderson. But then Jadeja finished off the things in style by slamming two huge sixes in the last two deliveries of the final over.
For Delhi, pacers Rabada and Cummins scalped two wickets each.
Brief scores: Delhi Daredevils 208/7 in 20 overs (Suresh Raina 77, Dinesh Karthik 65; Rabada 2/28) against Gujarat Lions.