Young Rishabh Pant once again showed why he is regarded as one of the most promising talents going around in the country. The left-hander was in a destructive mood at the Feroze Shah Kotla on Thursday night as he helped keep Delhi Daredevils' Indian Premier League (IPL) play-offs berth alive courtesy their convincing 7-wicket win over Gujarat Lions. Gujarat bowlers were on the receiving end of some stunning hitting and had little or answer on how to stop Pant in match 42 of IPL 2017. Delhi bowlers had themselves faced a Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik barrage in the first innings as Gujarat piled on 208 for seven in their allotted 20 overs. Pant eased the pain of his bowlers and took revenge smashing some massive sixes to enthrall the Delhi crowd. Pant was ably supported by Sanju Samson as the duo notched a 143-run partnership for the second wicket.
Pant came into bat in the third over of Delhi's innings after opening batsman and captain Karun Nair was dismissed cheaply by Pradeep Sangwan.
The 19-year-old immediately took on the Gujarat bowlers and carted them to all parts of the ground. Sangwan was the first to feel the youngster's wrath smashed the left-arm pacer for two consecutive sixes and a four. Opposition captain Suresh Raina also came under fire as Pant took him for 14 runs.
But the real game changer was when Pant, who made his T20 debut for India on February 1, 2017 at Bengaluru against England, smashed Australian all-rounder James Faulkner for three sixes and a four to leave Gujarat shell-shocked.
If it was the brutal force from end it was the classy swish from Samson from the other end as Delhi motored towards the 209-run target.
Pant brought about his third IPL fifty in no time and Samson soon followed with his seventh.
Samson finally fell to Jadeja for 61 off 31 balls in an astonishing innings that had no fours but seven sixes.
Pant it seemed would become the second Delhi batsman to score a hundred this season but he fell three runs short -- caught behind by Karthik off the bowling of Basil Thampi.
By the time Pant's whirlwind knock came to an end Delhi were within touching distance of Gujarat's score. The youngster could not believe his luck and dropped his head in disappointment but was immediately consoled by Gujarat skipper Raina, who in a great sporting gesture put his hands around the Delhi youngster and praised him for his innings.
Not only did Pant receive a standing ovation from the Delhi crowd but also from his teammates and Delhi staff with coach Rahul Dravid also excitedly clapping his hands.
Electing to field, Daredevils bowlers leaked runs as Gujarat rode on skipper Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik's (65) half-centuries to post 208 for seven.
Skipper Raina and Karthik struck fluent half- centuries to set the foundation for a huge score. Coming in to bat no. 3, Raina played fluently to score 77 runs off just 43 balls with the help of five boundaries and four sixes and together with Karthik added 133 runs off just 78 balls for the third wicket.
Sent into bat, Gujarat didn't have the best of the starts as they lost two wickets in quick succession. Brendon McCullum (1) was the first to depart caught by wicketkeeper Pant in the last delivery of the second over and then Dwayne Smith (9) was run out in the very next delivery of the same over.
Thereafter skipper Raina and Karthik joined hands and the duo mixed caution with aggression to take Gujarat forward.
The duo rode on their luck, especially Raina, as they brought up 100-run partnership off just 60 balls.
Raina was lucky to have survived in the seventh over when he was dropped by Marlon Samuels off the bowling off Mohammed Shami.
But Karthik was at his attacking best as he smashed Amit Mishra for a six and a four. He was harsh with left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem as he smacked the bowler for two sixes and one four to pick up 18 runs off the 12th over.
But an over later an in-form Raina departed as he fell prey to an unnecessary mix-up.
Gujarat were dealt a double blow in the next over as, Karthik too perished, caught by Anderson off the bowling of Pat Cummins in the first delivery of the very next over.
Jadeja smacked Anderson for two consecutive sixes in the final two deliveries of the last over to take Gujarat past the 200-run target.
(With PTI Inputs)