In another clinical display, Delhi Daredevils’ bowlers restricted table-toppers Gujarat Lions to 149, setting up a convincing eight-wicket win in Rajkot’s last game of the season. In the chase,Rishabh Pant and Quinton De Kock blazed a 115-run partnership off 81 balls – the side’s joint-fourth highest opening stand – to help Daredevils breeze to the second spot on the points table. Despite successive losses, Lions retained their place at the top. It was the 24th win by a chasing side in 31 games this season.
After opting to bowl, Daredevils’ bowlers set up an advantage in the first four overs. It looked like Shahbaz Nadeem had trapped Brendon McCullum in front in the first over, but umpire Chris Gaffaney indicated that the batsman had got an inside edge. After facing three of the first 16 balls, McCullum charged at a Zaheer Khan slower ball. Like most of Zaheer’s offcutters this season, it beat McCullum’s wild swing and clipped the off stump.
Two balls later, Dwayne Smith chipped a long-hop from Nadeem to long-on. In the same over, Aaron Finch, who replaced an injured Dwayne Bravo, got a leading edge off his attempted sweep to short fine leg. Lions’ three overseas batsmen were dismissed and already the middle order was limited to playing for singles and twos into Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium’s large pockets. The score at the end of six overs read 35 for 3, Lions’ lowest Powerplay returns of the season.
Apart from a well-timed uppercut for six, Suresh Raina struggled to find his timing. Dinesh Karthik, though, accrued his runs through well-placed sweeps and flicks in the vast outfield. Just when it looked like Lions had consolidated after the early jolt, Raina was stumped after misjudging a googly from Amit Mishra.
Thereafter, Ravindra Jadeja and Karthik resorted to the same modus operandi as the previous few overs. The pair, however, set up a solid platform for the end overs. Lions found at least one boundary in every over after the 13th, except the penultimate one.
The last five overs yielded 50 with hard-run twos contributing to the Lions score. Yet, the extent of the damage in the first four overs was so severe that Lions could only muster a sub-par 149.
De Kock and Pant, promoted to the opening slot, effectively finished the game by plundering nine boundaries in a 61-run Powerplay. Pant was particularly dominant with scythed cuts off the seamers’ wide offerings. When the ball was straight, Pant used his strong bottom hand to whip fours through the arc at midwicket.
After matching Pant in the Powerplay, de Kock laid anchor and milked the bowling for singles. Pant, though, did not slow down. He used his feet to smear and swipe towards the long-on region as he struck his first limited-overs fifty, off 25 balls.
Both Pant and de Kock were dismissed after across-the-line heaves, but Sanju Samson and JP Duminy, who returned after regaining fitness, took Daredevils home with 16 balls remaining.