IPL 2018: Williamson, Dhawan power SRH to play-offs

Rishabh Pant’s maverick ton remains inconsequential as Sunrisers Hyderabad beats Delhi Daredevils by nine wickets.

Sunrisers Hyderabad skipper Kane Williamson (right) and Shikhar Dhawan walk back to the pavillion after scoring the winning runs at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground in New Delhi on Thursday.   -  Sandeep Saxena

Rishabh Pant produced one of the most special knocks ever in Twenty20 but even his Herculean efforts were not enough to lift Delhi Daredevils as the host faltered to its eight loss, going down by nine wickets to table-topper Sunrisers Hyderabad here on Thursday. The result confirmed SRH's numero uno position with 18 points and a spot in the play-offs, while DD bowed out of the race with just six points.

SRH coach Tom Moody had insisted that “players like Shikhar Dhawan don't just disappear off the face of earth” on the eve of the game and the Delhi star chose the perfect setting to roar back into form after a disappointing outing in the IPL so far. Dhawan struck 92 runs off 50 deliveries, hit four sixes and nine fours and sent DD bowlers on a leather hunt at the Feroz Shah Kotla — his home ground.

 

Skipper Kane Williamson came good yet again to stamp his class with a 53-ball 83.

Together, the duo made easy meat of the 188-run target. It was a 176-run partnership, in just 102 balls after Alex Hales fell early. A striking contrast to the bludgeoning 63-ball 128 that Pant scored for DD, the highest by a batsman this season.

READ: Ton-up Pant stands out among Indians

But if Pant was a lone warrior raging against the might of the SRH bowling — easily the best this season — Dhawan and Williamson was a duet that managed to caress the ball to the boundary in tandem while also taking the aerial route at will.

Deservedly Williamson, the key to SRH batting all through the season, stuck the winning runs, smacking fellow compatriot Trent Boult's full toss through square for a four. In the process, the lone area of concern for SRH — its batting and ability to chase down big totals — was also taken care of.

Earlier, though it looked like SRH had a battle on its hands as Pant found the perfect stage to showcase himself. After being involved in two run-outs, it needed something special from the Delhi wicketkeeper to make up for it. He was a man possessed after Harshal Patel walked back, failing to return in time after setting out for a second run. DD was struggling at 98 for four in 14 overs with two of its top scorers — Prithvi Shaw and Shreyas Iyer — back in the hut and the game seemed to be playing out to a predictable script.

WATCH: Rishabh Pant, the run-machine

Then Pant happened as Glenn Maxwell remained a spectator at the other end — their 63-run partnership had just nine from the Australian. Bhuvneshwar Kumar went for 18 and 26 runs in his last two overs. Pant swept, reverse swept, pulled, dragged, paddled and even flipped the ball all over the ground. After a 38-ball 116 at the same ground four months back, this was another Pant special. Sadly, it wasn't enough for DD.

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