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Pant and Samson bring brutal end to Lions’ campaign

Delhi Daredevils 214 for 3 (Pant 97, Samson 61) beat Gujarat Lions 208 for 7 (Raina 77, Karthik 65, Rabada 2-27) by seven wickets

Pant, Samson

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Only once had a team chased more than 209 to win an IPL match and yet Delhi Daredevils made such short work of the target that by the last five overs, the required rate was less than a run a ball. This incredible situation was the result of local boy Rishabh Pant (97 off 43) and Sanju Samson’s (61 off 31) blitzkriegs. At one stage, the two batsmen together struck four successive deliveries for sixes. In all, there were 31 hits over the boundary line – a record for this tournament – and 20 of them came off the bat of the Daredevils as they raced to their target with 15 balls to spare and forced the Gujarat Lions out of the playoffs.

Earlier, impressive spells from Kagiso Rabada and Pat Cummins had turned the momentum after Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik struck rapid fifties, restricting Lions despite their having raced to 158 in their first 14 overs.

Raina gets on Daredevils’ list

The Daredevils have a new tradition: they’d dropped at least one catch in each of their last two games. Today, they dropped three. Each of the reprieved batsman – Yuvraj Singh and Robin Uthappa – had gone on to score 70 or more and Raina followed suit tonight. He was on 2 when Shreyas Iyer spilled a dolly at first slip off Rabada’s bowling. He was on 40 when Marlon Samuels couldn’t hold on to a flick aimed straight at him at midwicket. Eventually, the latest beneficiary of the Daredevils Goodwill List finished with 77 off 43 balls.

Lesson learnt

At the other end, Karthik had not given Daredevils the slightest chance. He struck at a quicker rate than Raina as the pair counterpunched in response to being 10 for 2 by the second over to put on the Lions’ highest partnership (133) in the IPL.

It was around this time, though, that Daredevils began learning an important lesson: when the batsman gives you a chance, convert it. Rabada caught Raina short at the non-strikers with a direct hit from backward point. Next over, Karthik fell to one of the catches of the season – Corey Anderson leaping backwards with an outstretched left hand at mid-off, before executing the perfect tumble to hold on. For good measure, Pant pouched a skier to dismiss Aaron Finch in the penultimate over.

A sixer here, a sixer there

After their successful chase in the last game, Nair revealed the plan had been to play like a young side – hit hard and have fun. And it was the youngest of them all who masterminded this chase. Pant’s first scoring shot was a six on the up over cover, a sign that dew was making its presence felt, and of a batsman enforcing home advantage.

So when Raina decided that Pant’s Delhi team-mate Pradeep Sangwan would bowl the next over, he was asking for trouble. Pant welcomed Sangwan with 16 off the first three balls and the Daredevils had breached 50 inside the fifth over. James Faulkner conceding five runs to end the Powerplay would be the last instance of the Lions being in the game. The next six overs went for 90 runs; each over contained at least one six, the 11th went for three.

When Samson – who hit seven sixes and no fours – was dismissed by Jadeja in the 14th over, Pant responded with a six and a four to bring the asking rate below run-a-ball. It was perhaps the perfect T20 innings. The only way it could have been better was if he had scored the three runs required to become IPL’s youngest centurion.

When Pant was caught behind for 97, Raina, knowing he will not play an IPL playoff match for the first time in 10 years, still came up and hugged the young man. It seemed like the handing of a baton, the IPL’s pre-eminent batsman heralding a new hero.

Credit:@ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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