It is not every night that a sparkling hundred in a T20 game gets overshadowed and becomes inconsequential. But, then, with Rishabh Pant, anything is possible.
The 21-year-old left-hander played a blistering knock (78 not out, 36b, 6*4, 4*6) to lead Delhi Capitals to a six-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals with four balls to spare. With the fifth away win in six games, Delhi also moved to the top of the table.
The Royals may have felt its 191 for six – 32 more than the average first-innings score in Jaipur this year – was good enough.
Opener Ajinkya Rahane’s unbeaten (105 not out, 63 b, 11*4, 3*6) would have been a match-winning effort in most games, but not on a night when Pant took the bowlers to the cleaners.
The Delhi wicket-keeper had walked in after his team lost the wickets of opener Shikhar Dhawan (54, 27b, 8*4, 2*6) and captain Shreyas Iyer. At 77 for two in 8.5 overs, the match was well poised.
Pant added 84 for the third wicket with Prithvi Shaw, who took good advantage of the catch spilled by Ashton Turner when he was on 10 as he went on to make 42 before he fell to Shreyas Gopal.
The Royals’ hopes were revived when Sherfane Rutherford was dismissed by Dhawal Kulkarni in the next over.
At the end of the 18th over, Delhi was 175 for four – exactly what Rajasthan was at the same stage. But, Pant dispatched Jofra Archer’s last ball in the 19th over long-on for a six.
Now, Delhi needed just six from the last over. After Colin Ingram took a single off the first ball, Pant pulled Jayadev Unadkat over mid-wicket for a six to finish off the run chase in style.
Rahane hits second IPL ton
Earlier, Rahane had to see his opening partner Sanju Samson getting run out without facing a ball and the catch he offered – while trying to sweep Axar Patel – being put down at short fine leg by Ishant Sharma.
He rubbed salt into Axar’s wound, hitting him for a straight six the very next ball. In the following over, he treated Rabada – the leading wicket-taker in the IPL – the same way, for a similar outcome.
Later on, he would send Chris Morris also into the stands, but Rahane’s batting is more about timing and placement. It was no different on Monday night.
He received excellent support from Smith (50), as the duo added 130 off 72 balls. But Smith's dismissal proved a setback for his team.
The Royals were 150 for two after 15 overs, but from the last five, they could make just 41. That proved very costly in the end.
Among the four wickets they lost in that period was that of Ashton Turner, who was out for his third golden duck in as many IPL matches.
Quite a turnaround for the Australian, whose last visit to India had made him a star with an astonishing knock.
On a good batting surface, Delhi rode on Dhawan and Shaw's fine start and was buoyed further by Pant's blistering knock as Delhi cantered to a comfortable win.
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