Young Rishabh Pant smashed his way to a brilliant 97 while Sanju Samson scored a fluent 61 to guide Delhi Daredevils to a comfortable seven-wicket win over Gujarat Lions and keep the hosts afloat for a play-off berth in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL).
Electing to field, Daredevils bowlers leaked runs as Gujarat rode on skipper Suresh Raina (77) and Dinesh Karthik’s (65) half-centuries to post 208 for seven.
Later, Pant and Samson showed their batting class to enable Daredevils’ overwhelm the target with consummate ease, reaching 214 for three with 15 balls to spare.
By virtue of this win, Rahul Dravid’s boys have managed to stay in the play-off race garnering eight points from 10 games to hold on to the sixth position in the standings with four matches still to play.
Last year’s third-placed team, Gujarat, on the other hand, are out of the play-off reckoning along side Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Chasing the stiff target, Daredevils were off to a blazing start but soon they were dealt a blow in the form of skipper Karun Nair who edged one to Karthik off Pradeep Sangwan with the scoreboard reading 25-1 after three overs.
Sangwan yielded too many runs in his next over with Rishabh Pant at his attacking best, clobbering the bowler for two huge hits over the fence and a four to pick up 17 runs of the fifth over.
Thereafter, it was a one-way traffic as young Pant displayed his hitting prowess to find boundaries and sixes at will to register his fifty in 27 balls with the help of two fours and five hits over the fence.
Pant and Samson went hammer and tongs from the word go as the duo didn’t spare a single Gujarat bowler to help Delhi race to 100 in just 9.1 overs.
The duo looked in murderous form as they notched up 100- run partnership for the second wicket in just 46 deliveries.
Pant showed he could be the next big thing in Indian cricket as he dealt in fours and sixes to take Daredevils forward in the company of Samson, who too showed his hitting prowess.
Samson matched his partner Pant stroke for stroke as he smacked Ravindra Jadeja for two consecutive sixes in the 12th over to bring down the equation to 56 runs off the eight overs.
With the run rate under their control, Samson went for a big shot only to give a straight forward catch to James Faulkner at cover off Jadeja’s bowling.
But the dismissal hardly had any effect on Pant as he continued his onslaught to produce one of the best innings of IPL 10.
But luck didn’t favour Pant as he was dismissed just three runs short of his maiden IPL century, when he nicked a Basil Thampi delivery to Karthik behind the stumps with Daredevils needing just 30 runs off 32 balls to win.
Shreyas Iyer (14 not out) and Corey Anderson (18 not out) finished off the proceedings for Daredevils by stitching an unbeaten 35-run partnership for the fourth wicket.
Earlier, skipper Raina and Karthik struck fluent half- centuries to set the foundation for a huge score.