Ajinkya Rahane scored a free-flowing 63-ball 105* but it was still not enough as Shikhar Dhawan and Rishabh Pant smoked blistering fifties to lead Delhi Capitals to a six-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Monday (April 22). With this win, Delhi now climb to the top spot on the points table.
Rahane announced his return to form with his second IPL century and added 130 runs with Steve Smith (32-ball 50) to propel Rajasthan to 191 for 6. In response, Dhawan (27-ball 54) was superb at the start before Pant (36-ball 78*) walked in and smashed Rajasthan bowlers all around the park as Delhi chased down the total with four deliveries to spare.
Earlier, Sanju Samson was run out without facing a ball but that didn't stop Rahane from taking the attack to Delhi bowlers. The 30-year-old got his eye in before exploding in the fifth over.
Ishant Sharma dropped a sitter at fine leg when Rahane was on 16 and the right-handed batsman rubbed salt into the wounds by smashing next two deliveries for 4 and 6.
There was no looking back from thereon as Rahane kept playing his shots, including one flat-batted six down the ground off Rabada's bowling. The home team managed 52 runs in the powerplay and Smith who was playing the role of an anchor since then also started to open his shoulders, wrists in his case.
The two batsmen did allow Amit Mishra and Axar Patel to settle in and kept finding boundaries at regular intervals. Smith first went after Mishra before crafting Sherfane Rutherford for three consecutive boundaries. The skipper brought up his eighth IPL half-century in 31 deliveries but was caught at long off in the very next ball.
However, Rahane kept finding boundaries with perfect timing and placement and got to his century in the 17th over. What was strange though that he only got to face four deliveries in the last three overs and that hurt Rajasthan as they couldn't get as many runs as they would have expected in the last few overs.
Rajasthan were 135 at the end of 13 overs but regular wickets meant they could only score 56 runs in the last seven overs. Ben Stokes (8) and Riyan Parag (4) didn't contribute much and Ashton Turner's horrible time in India continued as he registered his third consecutive golden duck.
Stuart Binny (13-ball 19) did his thing before getting knocked over by Kagiso Rabada (2 for 37), but it was pretty clear that Rajasthan were 15-20 runs short from where they could have been after the kind of start they got from Rahane and Smith.
In reply, Dhawan got Delhi off to a fiery start. The left-hander wasted no time and announced his arrival with a six off Dhawal Kulkarni's bowling. While Prithvi Shaw (39-ball 42) found it tough to get going at start, Dhawan looked way more fluent. He slammed Shreyas Gopal for 15 runs in an over and then continued the attack on Kulkarni.
Dhawan completed his fifty only in the sixth over but was stumped off Gopal's bowling. Coming in at No. 3, Shreyas Iyer only made 4 and was sent back by Riyan Parag.
Delhi needed Pant to fire and the wicketkeeper-batsman didn't disappoint. The left-handed dasher went after the spinners and was very smart with his approach, and even Shaw fed off his energy as the two kept finding a boundary or two every over.
Needing 50 in the final five overs, Pant tonked Jofra Archer for a maximum before smacking Gopal for a 6 and 4 in the next over. Shaw however couldn't keep his calm and ended up mistiming one straight into the hands of the long off fielder.
Rutherford (5-ball 11) hit a couple of big blows and brought the equation down to 17 off 12. Pant then hit Archer for 11 runs, including a six over long on, in the penultimate over before getting the job done with a yet another maximum in the second delivery of the last over.