Sanju Samson’s 102 was a tough act to match—poise at the crease and timing in his strokes. The first three-figure mark in the 10th edition of the IPL—the batsman’s first ton in the competition—enabled Delhi Daredevils set a challenging 205 for rivals to chase. Rising Pune Supergiant slumped to 54-5 in eight overs, losing by 97 runs after finally being bowled out for 108 in 16.1 overs.
One of Rahul Dravid’s chosen ones, Samson would have made his coach proud, for calmness and style. Batting at the third slot, Samson muscled in with eight fours and five stunning sixes and dealt with the bowling on his own terms. Chris Morris rattled up a quick-fire 38 off nine balls faced at number six, nearly matching the centurion in hitting (four fours, three sixes).
RPS leg-spinners Imran Tahir (4-0-24-1) and Adam Zampa (4-0-45-1) curbed the DD stroke-maker to some extent, indicating the assistance for slow bowlers from the MCA stadium track.
Later in the evening, Zaheer Khan (3-0-20-3) masterminded the defence in style, building on pressure to wipe out RPS hopes and reduce an action-packed game into a mismatch.
Steve Smith sat out due to a stomach upset. Manoj Tiwary, who lost his father in the morning, was also not available. Stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane lasted nine balls at the crease. His team-mates did not show the skill or spunk to match the bowlers’ spirited efforts earlier in the game. The home fans banked on M. S. Dhoni to pull off a miracle with the blade, but he picked out the fielder at mid-wicket.
DD started with left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem. Zaheer’s variations tricked rival captain Rahane. Leg-spinner Amit Mishra provoked Dhoni to shuffle at the crease and flick powerfully off his toes. Karun Nair tracked the dipping ball and completed a neat catch in the deep. Faf du Plessis tried an audacious scoop over third man against Nadeem, was snapped up behind.
DD batsmen also faced trouble against fascinating bowling by Tahir, who teamed up with Zampa for the second time on home turf. The former struck in his seventh ball, his control over line and power in his wrists, to gain turn was impressive. But Samson read him correctly and lashed one six off the South African.
Samson and partner Rishabh Pant played out the spinners. RPS was in control at the halfway mark, 88-2 in 10 overs and with the two stroke-makers biding their time. The former started off at a brisk pace, crossed half-century in 41 balls before stepping on the gas in the slog overs for the first ton in IPL. The home team had match-winners in their ranks, but ended up making a hash of the chance to suffer second defeat in three games.
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