The last time the Gujarat Lions played against Delhi Daredevils, six days ago at the Feroz Shah Kotla, Chris Morris blazed a 32-ball 82 to take Delhi within a run of victory. At the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Tuesday, Morris was not even padded up as Daredevils trotted to the target in just 17.2 overs with eight wickets in hand.
Rishabh Pant, who was promoted to open the innings, grabbed the opportunity by smashing a 40-ball 69. Pant had come lower down the order for Delhi in the last two matches and could only score four and 20.
Against Gujarat, with the target only 150, Pant was at his best, showing scant regard for reputation or form. He hit Gujarat’s pace spearhead Dhawal Kulkarni for three consecutive boundaries in the second over to signal his no-holds-barred approach.
Skipper Suresh Raina, who brought himself on into the attack in a bid to halt the charge, was also hit for two fours and a six in the ninth over. By the time Pant got out in the 14th over, the match had more or less swung in Delhi’s favour.
The Lions paid the price for not including an additional bowler, particularly a spinner like Pravin Tambe, instead going in with seven batsmen.
The Lions’ top order has been the foundation on which the team’s success is built. However, they have now suffered two batting collapses in three days. Against Kings XI Punjab, they were 39/5 at one stage. Against Delhi Daredevils, they were at 24/3.
The Gujarat franchise found itself in trouble early, losing Brendon McCullum (1), Dwayne Smith (15) and Aaron Finch (5) due to careless shots.
From there on, Gujarat’s innings moved in first gear with wickets falling at regular intervals. Raina, Dinesh Karthik and Ravindra Jadeja all made handy contributions, but they could never accelerate to give their bowlers a better total to defend.
On a night when his team needed him most desperately, Jadeja scored a patient 36 not out from 26 balls in what is the team’s last home match at the SCA Stadium, which is also Jadeja’s home ground.
Much is made of Raina’s trouble against the short ball, but when Mohammed Shami bowled a bouncer at the left-hander, he dispatched it effortlessly for a six. A few overs later, Morris tried the tactic, aiming one at Raina’s ribcage, but it was turned away for a boundary to deep square leg.
That was the only positive for Raina from the match as the Lions now shift base to Kanpur.