Sunrisers Hyderabad 191 for 1 (Dhawan 92*, Williamson 83*) beat Delhi Daredevils 187 for 5 (Pant 128*, Shakib 2-27) by nine wickets
Delhi Daredevils’ Rishabh Pant smoked an unbeaten 128 off 63 balls – the highest score by an Indian in T20s – but another Delhi boy Shikhar Dhawan and Kane Williamson stole his thunder and ensured Sunrisers Hyderabad became the first team to progress to the playoffs. The result also meant Daredevils were the first team to be knocked out.
On another night, Pant’s blistering assault may have been match-winning. After being part of two run-outs, he single-handedly took on Sunrisers’ attack like an action hero would treat a bunch of villains. A 36-ball half-century made way for a 56-ball century. By the time he finished, Daredevils had smashed 135 off their last 10 overs to swell the total to 187 for 5.
On a typically slow Feroz Shah Kotla pitch, the chase ought to have been a challenging one, but Dhawan scored his second half-century of the season and Williamson hit his sixth to make light work of it. They added an unbroken 176 for the second wicket – the highest stand for Sunrisers – to usher their team home with nine wickets and seven balls to spare.
Sunrisers’ sensational attack had limited Mumbai Indians to 52 for 3 – the lowest 10-over score this season – while defending 118 against Mumbai Indians last month. They repeated the feat again, against Daredevils on Thursday night. Shakib Al Hasan found grip and turn with the new ball to dismiss Prithvi Shaw and Jason Roy off successive balls. Pant denied Shakib a hat-trick and instead went onto hit a hat-trick of off-side boundaries to greet Siddarth Kaul into the attack. Shreyas Iyer, at the other end, laboured to three off eight balls, before he became the victim of a terrible mix-up with Pant.
Don’t mess with the angry Pant
Harshal Patel, who was promoted to No. 5, ahead of Glenn Maxwell and Vijay Shankar, injected some urgency into the innings with a brace of sixes off slower balls. Another piece of sloppy running, however, resulted in the run-out of Harshal for 24 off 17 balls. It was the fourth time in four games that Pant was involved in a run-out. Having turned his back on his partner for a second time on Thursday, a fuming Pant unleashed his pent-up frustration on Sunrisers’ attack. The first ball he faced after the Harshal run-out was banished over the midwicket boundary. It brought up his fifty off 36 balls; he then needed only 20 more for his next fifty.
Pant’s ferocity put Maxwell in the firing line at the non-striker’s end. He then stretched out, met the pitch of a wrong’un from Rashid Khan, the No.1 T20 bowler right now, and disdainfully reverse-swatted it away to the backward point boundary. Pant, however, hit his peak when he flipped Bhuvneshwar Kumar over short third man not just once but thrice. Pant had Maxwell, a master of trick shots himself, punching his gloves and Williamson smiling wryly.
Bhuvneshwar had Maxwell holing out with the first ball of the last over, but Pant carted the remaining five balls to the boundary, the pick of them being a one-handed six over long-on. All told, Pant took Bhuvneshwar for 43 runs off 11 balls at a strike-rate of 390.90.
Nailing the chase
The popular opinion was that bat first and bat big would apply pressure on Sunrisers. Their only two losses this season have come while chasing 180-plus totals against Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings. Against Daredevils, Sunrisers had an early setback when Alex Hales was pinned lbw by Harshal’s offcutter in the second over. The next over bowled by left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem was the only over in the chase without a boundary.
Dhawan, who had managed only 68 runs in five innings since sustaining an elbow injury, was severe on anything that was remotely short and wide outside off. Williamson, however, was just doing his thing. He kept manoeuvring the balls into the gaps and kept putting the bad balls away.
Dhawan moved to his fifty off 30 balls, when he swatted Harshal over midwicket for four, in the 12th over. Williamson, meanwhile, brought up a fifty of his own, three overs later, off 38 balls. Daredevils dug deep into their reserves, with Liam Plunkett and Trent Boult bowling a variety of slower balls, and Nadeem even venturing a legbreak, but nothing worked against Dhawan and Williamson.
Masters of the defence: check. Masters of the chase: check.