Karun Nair’s Man of the Match innings of 64 off 45 balls saw the Delhi Daredevils win by seven runs against the Rising Pune Supergiant on Friday.
The hosts won the toss and elected to bat in a game that saw them playing for pride, while the Rising Pune Supergiant were looking to seal a playoff berth.
The Daredevils got off to a less than ideal start as they lost the always-dangerous Sanju Samson off the last ball of the first over, run out for only three. Shreyas Iye, followed shortly thereafter, caught behind by MS Dhoni off Jaydav Unadkat, the hosts reeling at 9-2 early in the third over.
Rishabh Pant and Nair then set about repairing the early damage and bringing stability to the innings. The pair proceeded to hit Washington Sundar for 15 runs off the fourth over of the innings. The momentum was maintained as a costly 13-run first over by Ben Stokes saw the hosts advance their score to 40-2.
The Daredevils continued their resurgence as they brought their score to 54-2 at the end of the power play. Nair and Pant had brought up their 50-partnership off only 28 balls and led their team to a score of 63-2 after just seven overs, scoring at more than 11 runs to the over since they had come together.
The 74-run third-wicket stand was broken as Adam Zampa removed Pant for a well-played 36 off 22 (four fours, two sixes).
Marlon Samuels replaced Pant at the crease and proved an ideal partner for the now-settled Nair. The West Indian batsman helped himself to consecutive sixes from the bowling of Shardul Thakur off the final two balls of the 12th over. His cameo of 27 runs off 21 balls (one four, two sixes) came to an end in the 13th over as Dan Christian had him caught behind by Dhoni.
As the saying goes, one often brings two. This rang true for the Delhi side, as they lost Corey Anderson a little more than an over later, stumped by Dhoni off the bowling of Sundar.
Undeterred, Nair continued on his merry way by helping his team take 19 runs off the 18th over, before he eventually fell for a terrific 64 off just 45 balls (nine fours).
The hosts were restricted to just eight runs off the final two overs, highlighted by a tremendous catch by Stokes off the bowling of Unadkat to get rid of Mohammad Shami. The Delhi Daredevils posted a competitive 168-8 in their allotted overs.
The Supergiant’s reply got off to a nightmare start as Ajinkya Rahane was clean-bowled by Zaheer Khan with the very first ball, the latter picking up his 100th IPL wicket in the process.
Australia’s captain, Steve Smith, walked to the wicket seeking to lay the foundation for a Supergiant victory. Smith put on a stroke play masterclass as he played delightful square and cover drives on his way to 38 off 32 balls (four fours, one six). When he succumbed to Shahbaz Nadeem at the start of ninth over, the Pune outfit found themselves on 74-3.
Manoj Tiwary also provided fantastic support to Smith, playing a fine innings, which kept the visitors in the game for much of the chase.
The untimely loss of wickets began with Stokes, who fell for a 25-ball 33 (three fours, two sixes), and continued with the unnecessary run-out of Dhoni in the 18th over. Christian followed only five balls later, lbw to Shami.
Despite Tiwary keeping the visitors in touch with consecutive sixes to begin the final over, it was all a bridge too far for the Supergiant as they fell seven runs short, and will now have to wait to secure playoff qualification.