Chris Morris’ brilliant unbeaten knock of 82 went in vain as Gujarat Lions held their nerves to pull off a thrilling one-run win over Delhi Daredevils in an Indian Premier League match in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Coming out to bat at a difficult time when the Daredevils were tottering at 57 for four in 10.4 overs while chasing a challenging 173, Morris played a sensational knock and struck sixes at will to notch up his fifty in just 17 balls, the fastest half century of the season.
Morris (82 not out off 32 balls) shared 87 runs for the fifth wicket with country-mate JP Duminy (48 off 43 balls) to take Daredevils on the brink of a win before experienced Praveen Kumar and Dwayne Bravo produced brilliant final two overs to restrict Daredevils to 171 for five.
With Daredevils needing 18 runs off the last two overs, Praveen gave away four runs in the penultimate over before Bravo held on to his nerves with a fine final over to seal the win for Gujarat Lions and propel the debutants to the top of the standings with 10 points from six games.
Earlier, openers Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith struck explosive fifties before Daredevils bowlers pulled things back to some extent to restrict Gujarat Lions to 172 for six.
McCullum (60 off 36 balls) and Smith (53 off 30) gave Gujarat a blazing start as the duo put on 112 runs off just 64 balls for the opening stand after being invited to bat.
The way McCullum and Smith were going at one stage, Gujarat were well and truly on course to post a 200 plus total but Delhi bowlers, especially Imran Tahir (3/24) and Chris Morris (2/35), bowled brilliantly in the middle overs to keep the total under their arms length.
Chasing a challenging 173 for win, the Daredevils were off to a horrible start, with right-arm pacer Dhawal Kulkarni picking up the first three wickets, two of which came in one over, to reduce the hosts to 16 for three in four overs.
While Sanju Samson got a leading edge and was caught by a backward running James Faulkner in the second over, Kulkarni returned to dismiss Quinton de Kock (5) and Karun Nair (9). Duminy and Risabh Pant (20) then tried to resurrect the Delhi innings with a 40-run stand before the latter was brilliantly caught by Praveen Kumar at deep off Faulkner’s bowling.
Then came in Morris and in the company of Duminy used his long handle to great effect to keep Delhi in the hunt till the very last over.
Morris struck a whopping eight lusty sixes and four boundaries to keep Delhi afloat but pressure seemed to have took a toll on him in the final two overs of the chase. Delhi needed four runs from the last ball but could get just two to lose the match by one run.
Earlier, it was Smith who got Gujarat off to a rollicking start, hitting Delhi skipper Zaheer Khan for four boundaries to pick up 18 runs off the opening over. After Smith, it was McCullum’s turn to take Zaheer to task as the Kiwi struck the left-arm pacer for two lusty sixes in his next over.
But McCullum was little lucky with the first six as Sanju Samson put down a regulation catch at deep cover.
Gujarat Lions openers continued their carnage as Smith whipped Nadeem over midwicket in the next over to bring up the team’s 50 in just 23 balls.