Shikhar Dhawan finally overcame a poor run of form at the top of the order as the Delhi Capitals beat the Kolkata Knight Riders by 7 wickets in an IPL 2019 encounter at Kolkata on Saturday.
Chasing 179 to win, Dhawan (97*) and Pant (46) put together a key 105-run stand for the third wicket as the Capitals consigned the Knight Riders to their second consecutive defeat.
Dhawan and opening partner Prithvi Shaw came out all guns blazing at the start of the second innings and they started well but the latter departed quickly after edging one to Dinesh Karthik off Prasidh Krishna’s bowling.
Skipper Shreyas Iyer was the next man to depart, chasing a ball from Andre Russell that was going down the leg side but only giving Karthik a simple catch.
Yet Dhawan was in ominous form and regularly found the boundary even after the powerplays ended. KKR, who have struggled to take wickets this season, once again found the going hard in the middle overs.
But Pant and Dhawan scored runs at a quick pace and looked comfortable with the equation. By the time Pant was dismissed after giving Kuldeep Yadav a simple catch at long-on, the match looked all but over.
DC’s history of late capitulations might have kept a few of their fans worried, but Dhawan and Colin Ingram took the team home without too much fuss, the latter finishing the match with a six.
Earlier, KKR could only put up a total of 178/7 in the first innings after Iyer won the toss and put the hosts in to bat first.
Due to a virus in the camp, KKR were forced to make three changes: Sunil Narine and Chris Lynn dropped out for Joe Denly and Carlos Brathwaite, whereas Harry Gurney dropped out for Lockie Ferguson.
Denly’s reputation as a hard-hitting opener in the format is known yet he started his IPL career with a golden duck after an in-swinger from Ishant Sharma cleaned up his stumps.
This brought out Robin Uthappa, who along with surprise opening choice Shubman Gill looked to rebuild from an early loss.
The two were noticeably more subdued than the slap-dash pairing that Lynn and Narine are, yet they did well to keep the scoreboard ticking with conventional cricketing shots.
Their 63-run stand came to an end when Uthappa was caught behind by Pant off Kagiso Rabada and saw the scoring rate come down drastically.
Nitish Rana was dismissed cheaply but Andre Russell came in and looked to have shifted the momentum towards the home side again.
His 21-ball 45 consisted of 4 sixes and 3 fours but his dismissal in the penultimate over meant KKR were unable to get nearer to the 200-run mark, despite Piyush Chawla adding some valuable runs towards the end.
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