The Delhi Daredevils beat the Gujarat Lions by two wickets in a thrilling contest inspired by Shreyas Iyer’s 96.
It might have been a dead rubber, but it didn’t deter the two sides from fighting tooth and nail in a match that appeared to be heading in the Lions’ favour. However, Iyer stayed true to his precocious talent, with a career-best 96 for the Daredevils to win their fifth match of the tournament.
With just four wins apiece going into this contest, a fifth-placed finish was the best the sides could hope for. The Daredevils look more likely to achieve that, sealing a double of victories chasing against the Lions this season. While it was a comfortable seven-wicket victory against them last week, they were pushed right to the death this time around.
The Lions, who topped the group stages last season, got off to a relatively good start, thanks to their young opener Ishan Kishan, who struck 34 off 25 balls, but Suresh Raina (6) and Dwayne Smith (9) fell cheaply to leave them in a precarious position on 56-3.
That was when Aaron Finch and Dinesh Karthik came to the fore, smacking 92 off 9.4 overs to hand the Lions the ascendency. Finch was the chief destroyer, blasting four sixes and six fours for his 69 off 39. Karthik provided a solid supporting act with 40 off 28. Ravindra Jadeja (13) and James Faulkner (14) did a good job at the back end to give them a competitive 195-5.
Pradeep Sangwan got the Lions off to a solid start as Sanju Samson fell in the second over for 10, before Risabh Pant was run out two balls later for four, thanks to some clever work from Raina. But an important and aggressive stand then followed between Karun Nair and Iyer, with 57 runs scored off only 5.4 overs.
A flurry of wickets then set the Daredevils back, as a pair of superb run-outs from Jadeja saw the back of overseas pair Marlon Samuels (1) and Corey Anderson (6). Carlos Brathwaite’s wicket for 11 left them struggling on 121-6.
Eleven runs an over were required from that point on, but a vital cameo by Pat Cummins kept the Delhi side afloat, with Iyer still at the crease. Cummins scored 24 off 13 balls as Iyer continued to find the boundary rope with a series of exquisite shots. Their 61-run stand gave them hope, and despite Cummins falling in the penultimate over, they only required nine going into the final over.
Iyer was simply superb throughout, scoring 15 fours and two sixes. He fell for 96 off 57 balls with four balls remaining, but Amit Mishra made sure of victory, hitting boundaries off his first two balls to see the side over the line with two balls remaining.
Photo: Shaun Roy/IPL/Cricinfo