Marauding SRH book play-offs berth in style

BRUTAL: Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Shikhar Dhawan smashes one to the fence en route his unbeaten 92 against Delhi Daredevils at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium on Thursday. PTI

Rishabh Pant powered to an unbeaten 128, but Delhi Daredevils failed to seize the opportunity and slumped to a nine-wicket defeat against Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.

Hyderabad’s victory, a masterful chase, was carved out by captain Kane Williamson (83 n.o.) and Shikhar Dhawan (92 n.o.). The experienced duo not only made Pant’s blistering knock go in vain but also fetched their side a play-offs berth with 18 points.

Choosing to bat, Daredevils were shackled by a slow surface and early wickets before Pant came into his own by becoming the first Indian to score a century this season. He simply destroyed the best attack of the season with savage hitting and lifted Daredevils to an intimidating 187/5. Pant’s century (63b, 15x4, 7x6) is also the third highest score in all T20s.

But Hyderabad, who had not batted to the expectations, chose the perfect occasion to show the might of their willow. Despite losing Alex Hales early, caught plumb in front by Harshal Patel, Hyderabad cruised on with the experienced Williamson and Dhawan making a mockery of the target during their unbeaten176-run partnership off 102 balls for the second wicket.

If Dhawan took the attack to the opposition, Williamson’s batting was all about timing and placement. Together they wore down on Daredevils bowling which was guilty of bowling short and too full. As the two brought up their half centuries, Daredevils, out of contention, flaunted dropped shoulders. Daredevils were off to a terrible start with Shakib al Hasan bowling a brilliant over to remove the scratch duo of Jason Roy and Prithvi Shaw in succession.

More tragedy struck when captain Shreyas Iyer was run out and Daredevils were staring down the barrel at 43/3. Harshal joined Pant before another mix up put curtains to their 55-runs partnership and Daredevils lost their fourth wicket in less than 100 runs.

But by then Pant was already in a marauding mood. Talented leg-spinner Rashid Khan was ripped for 15 runs in the 12th over. In fact, Pant was fearless in attacking Rashid, one of the most successful bowlers of this edition. Rashid finished wicketless, leaking 35 runs. Pant alone scored 27 off him. So ferociously he went after the bowling that 138 runs flowed in the last 10 overs against the 52 in the first 10. None of the bowlers save Sandeep Sharma was spared.

Pant unleashed a number of unconventional shots -- he reversed hit and scooped with abandon- and single-handedly left the reputation of Hyderabad bowling in tatters.

The 20-year-old brought both his half-century and century with a six. He ensured Daredevils end the innings on a high when he pummeled Bhuvneshwar Kumar for 26 runs in the last over. The way he tilted his bat to scoop Bhuvneshwar for successive fours forced a smile even from Williamson. It indeed was phenomenal batting by Pant whose head deserved the orange cap. Sadly, he couldn’t end up on the winning side.

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Marauding SRH book play-offs berth in style

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