Avenging their one-run loss only a week back, Delhi Daredevils cruised to an 8-wicket win over the Gujarat Lions in their reverse fixture on Tuesday evening at Rajkot. The openers made easy work of the 150 target set by the Lions and went second in the table just behind their rivals.
The last time Gujarat Lions and Delhi Daredevils locked horns, it went down to the last delivery after some insane batting by Chris Morris. This time around, however, it was a much more straight forward affair with Chris Morris not even required to put on his pads.
Chasing a smaller target of 150 on the night, Delhi got off to a flyer with openers Quinton de Kock and Rishabh Pant taking full use of the early field restrictions. The two left-handers sent the ball to the boundary 9 times in the first 6 overs—more than half of Gujarat Lions’s boundaries in their entire innings—and were cruising at 61 runs without a wicket.
With the required run rate below 6.5, Delhi eased on for a couple of overs before Pant decided to give the fans an early night off. The southpaw took Suresh Raina all across the park, milking 16 runs off the over and bringing his maiden IPL 50 in the process. For once, de Kock was happy to just spectate.
Gujarat clearly missed their charismatic West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Bravo, missing out with an injury, as the home side huffed and puffed for a breakthrough. Pant meanwhile, didn’t huff or puff one bit dismissing the Lions bowlers to the fence with disdain, and the result was merely a formality from there on. A small twist in the tale arrived in the 14th over when Jadeja sent Pant back to the pavilion ending the 115-run partnership. But, Sanju Samson and de Kock ensured it was nothing more than a hiccup and continued piling up the runs. De Kock fell 4 runs short of his 50, but JP Duminy and Samson chased the target down with 16 balls to play.
Earlier in the evening, Zaheer Khan won what could be labelled a bad omen toss. After all, only 1 of the 4 captains to have won a toss on this ground have gone on to win the match. Delhi’s field first strategy has brought them a lot of success this season, and they set the ball rolling in the powerplay picking 3 wickets to push the home side into a corner from the very start. First, Brendan McCullum went for a mad swing and missed to see his stumps light up. That was quickly followed by Shahbaz Nadeem sending back both Dwayne Smith and Aaron Finch in the same over to put Delhi in the driving seat.
Things could have been much worse had Sam Billings hit the stumps from point, but Dinesh Karthik, who was miles short, lived to fight another day. That miss proved to be crucial as Karthik stepped it up in the middle overs with the help of skipper Suresh Raina. But Raina, unlike DK, had looked tentative for the best part of his innings. Pulls and scoops would evade short-fine leg as short balls continued to trouble the left-hander. His not-so-comfortable stay at the crease was brought to an end by Amit Mishra. The leggie saw Raina step out and slid one wider. De Kock dislocated the bails, and for a change, Rahul Dravid applauded.
Karthik continued in his own pace at the other end, and brought up his 50 in the death overs. Ravindra Jadeja joined hands with the keeper-batsman to elevate the run-rate. Hovering around the 6-6.5 mark for most of the innings, Jadeja’s 26-ball 36 propelled Gujarat Lions to a decent 149, with 50 runs coming from the last 5 overs.
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