Rishabh Pant's big-hitting exhibition helps DC beat GT in IPL 2024 | Crickit
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Rishabh Pant's big-hitting exhibition helps DC beat GT in IPL 2024

By, New Delhi
Apr 24, 2024 11:40 PM IST

The 26-year-old put on a show as he remained unbeaten on 88 off 43 balls – his highest score this season.

Delhi Capitals were 44/3 in 5.4 overs against Gujarat Titans when Rishabh Pant and Axar Patel came together on Wednesday. By the time the innings ended, Delhi had added another 180 runs in 14.2 overs for just one wicket. The dramatic turnaround came largely thanks to Pant offering the strongest evidence yet of his readiness as selection for the T20 World Cup looms.

Rishabh Pant plays a shot during an Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 T20 cricket match between Delhi Capitals and Gujarat Titans(PTI)
Rishabh Pant plays a shot during an Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 T20 cricket match between Delhi Capitals and Gujarat Titans(PTI)

By hitting two fifties and exhibiting sharpness behind the stumps in the first eight games for Delhi Capitals after a 14-month layoff due to a car accident, Pant had already put his name in the ring for an India recall at the marquee event. On Wednesday, more of the trademark Pant was on show, flicking, pulling and cutting the ball with the authority that had made the wicketkeeper-batter stand out before the hiatus.

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The 26-year-old remained unbeaten on 88 off 43 balls – his highest score this season – as Delhi finished on 224/4. It was just enough for Delhi to close out a four-run win as they limited Gujarat to 220/8. Sai Sudharsan, David Miller and even Rashid Khan had their moments with the bat for Gujarat, but Mukesh Kumar held his nerve at the end.

The spotlight though belonged to Pant on a day when he took a special liking to Mohit Sharma’s medium-pace. Having brought up his half-century, off 34 balls, by smashing a slower full toss over long-on for six, he carted the former India bowler for four sixes and a four in a 31-run final over. Sharma’s figures at the end read an unflattering 4-0-73-0.

Pant hit eight sixes on the night as a partisan crowd lapped up the skipper’s big-hitting exhibition. That he came in with Delhi in a spot of bother was almost a blessing in disguise. Not the sort of batter who is comfortable teeing off immediately, Pant is at his most dangerous once he has given himself a few balls to find his bearings. He had that time on Wednesday.

Axar was also instrumental in Delhi’s turnaround. Only on Monday, Axar had quietly bemoaned the lack of batting opportunities this season due to the Impact Player rule. The Delhi management seemed to have heard Axar’s plea, for he was promoted to No.3 this time. The move worked as Axar and Pant stitched together a 113-run stand for the fourth wicket off just 68 balls.

At a venue where Sunrisers Hyderabad had smashed 266/7 the other night, Axar and Pant had to target a tall score. They did that ably, not allowing the Afghan spin duo of Rashid and Noor Ahmad to squeeze in a few quiet overs in the middle phase. Axar took his first major risk when he slog-swept Rashid for a six over wide long-on. Pant repeated that shot against Noor for the same result three overs later. Pant’s favoured pick-up shot over short fine leg also made its presence felt, as did the ferocious whip off his legs for a six over midwicket. Rashid’s four overs went for 35 runs while Noor leaked 36 in three overs.

The presence of two left-hand batters also resulted in GT holding back left-arm spinner R Sai Kishore. This is where the reliance on match-ups seems a tad overdone. Sai Kishore was the Player of the Match in Gujarat’s previous game with four wickets, but the 19th over of the innings was his only over of the evening. That went for 22 runs, with Delhi’s batters having the complete freedom to lay into him by then.

GT lost skipper Shubman Gill in the second over before Wriddhiman Saha and Sudharsan stitched together an 82-run alliance. As has been the case right through this season though, GT’s middle-order stuttered and lost five wickets for 57 runs, leaving them with 73 runs to get from the final four overs.

It was a steep ask alright but not beyond Miller and Rashid’s grasp. Miller took down his compatriot Anrich Nortje for 24 runs in the 17th over. During the over, he brought up a 21-ball fifty, still making GT believe that they could pull this off. Almost.

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