A 63-ball 128 from Rishabh Pant was not enough to stop Delhi Daredevils from being the first team to be knocked out of IPL 2018. After Sunrisers Hyderabad made early inroads, Pant entertained one and all with his 360-degree batting against one of the best bowling attacks of the tournament.
However, an unbeaten 176-run stand between Shikhar Dhawan and Kane Williamson meant that Delhi’s target was made to look silly. Sunrisers Hyderabad, on their part, ensured a playoff berth with their ninth win in eleven games.
Here we bring out the best moments of the match. (Warning: Get ready for Pant overdose)
Shakib's scintillating bowling
Sunrisers Hyderabad boast of one of the best bowling attacks in the tournament. With Sandeep Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Siddharth Kaul forming the pace battery, they have been relentless in the Powerplays, choking the opposition down with wickets and stringent lines.
However, on Thursday, it was Shakib Al Hasan who broke through Delhi's openers, with the two wickets from two balls, and gave Sunrisers an early opening. He had the dangerous Prithvi Shaw top-edging a swipe across leg-side to cover courtesy a slider.
Next ball, he sent Jason Roy, Shaw’s opening partner, back to the hut with a peach of a delivery. The ball spun square off the pitch and bamboozled Roy, who nudged it through to Shreevats Goswami behind the stumps.
Rishabh Pant's misdemeanours before the onslaught
With Delhi Daredevils in dire straits quite early in the game on what was expected to be a pitch with runs written all over it, they needed their young duo of Shreyas Iyer and Pant to fire. Iyer, who has played some exemplary knocks for Delhi this season, found himself being sold down the river by Pant for the second time in the tournament.
Pant inside-edged a ball from Sandeep onto his pads and the ball dropped right in front of wicket-keeper Goswami. An alert Iyer wanted a single and rushed across only to be denied by Pant. The Delhi batsman stood firm at the striker's end as Iyer failed to get back to the non-striker's and made the long walk back to the pavilion.
If you thought that was the end of Pant’s misdemeanours for the night, you were sadly mistaken. Things took a turn for the worst when a promoted Harshal Patel started finding the middle of the bat, but once again, Pant ruined it by running his partner out. Pant flicked Rashid to the leg-side and called for a double. The duo completed one and Pant, seeming eager for the second, called Harshal before realising that he would be running to the danger end and shouted a no. Harshal couldn't make it back and one more run out left Delhi badly bruised.
To state that Pant made up for his two running-between-the-wicket mishaps would be an understatement. He toyed with Sunrisers’ bowling attack, dismantled the best of them and unleashed a perfect mix of power and cheekiness in his race to a maiden IPL hundred.
Of his savage assault, two hysterical scoops to off-side over short third man off Bhuvneshwar Kumar stood out. With the Indian seamer known to hit impeccable yorkers, Pant decided to double bluff him by staying deep in the crease and using the depth to scoop out the bowler's outside-off stump yorker over the short third-man fielder.
In the second ball of the final over, Bhuvneshwar landed the ball outside off but instead of witnessing a murderous swipe across the off-side, which seemed passe to Pant, the batsman scooped him, hands turning and all, to the off-side. The ball raced to the fence for a boundary much to annoyance of Bhuvneshwar.
However, like the spectators, Bhuvneshwar too assumed that Pant wouldn't dare do it again for he landed another yorker in the exact same spot next ball. Pant, nonchalantly, came out with yet another scoop by going deeper in the crease and found the fence. Watching the assault, Sunrisers skipper Williamson could only sport a wry smile.
The best were undone by Rishabh Pant
Perhaps two of the best bowlers in the death overs were treated with absolute disdain by Pant. The immaculate Rashid was slammed for 27 runs in 13 balls against Pant, with a six and four fours.
The leg-spinner was taken to runs with Pant hitting three fours in the 12th overs. A reverse sweep was followed by a conventional sweep and then a slog across the line. When Rashid returned to the attack later, Pant smashed 13 off his over courtesy a six and a four.
If Rashid had reasons to be depressed, Bhuvneshwar, regarded as one of the best bowlers in the death overs, was treated with complete disrespect. Pant took a special liking to Bhuvneshwar and hacked him for 42 runs in 11 balls, all of them coming in his final two overs (18th and 20th).
The seamer was tonked for two fours and a six in an 18-run over but that was just the beginning of the carnage. Learning his lessons, Bhuvneshwar switched to wide yorkers for the final over but they were scooped mercilessly over short third man. He discarded the yorker ploy and switched to bouncers, but saw both of them disappear for sixes – one through fine-leg and another right down the ground, hit with a single hand.
By the last ball, Bhuvneshwar was all but drained and dished out a juicy full toss that Pant disdainfully bludgeoned over deep mid-wicket to complete a stupendous knock. 26 runs ensued from the over and his 128* witnessed two of the best T20 bowlers in the game running around searching for cover.