Rishabh Pant hit a blistering 49 off 21 balls as Delhi Capitals notched a thrilling two-wicket victory against Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League Eliminator on Wednesday.
Pant smashed five sixes and two fours in Delhi’s first IPL play-off in six years which carried them to 165-8 when Keemo Paul struck a winning boundary on the penultimate ball of their run-chase.
Hyderabad had earlier scored 162-8 despite their two key players _ Englishman Jonny Bairstow and Australian David Warner _ being back with their respective national teams for World Cup preparations.
“If you try to stop players like Rishabh and Prithvi, it may not work. If they go on with the flow, they can win you games,” Delhi captain Shreyas Iyer said.
Delhi’s 19-year-old opener Prithvi Shaw smashed 56 off 38 balls but Hyderabad bounced back when fast bowler Khaleel Ahmed (2-24) removed both Shaw and Iyer (8) in the 11th over.
Afghanistan spin duo Rashid Khan (2-15) and Mohammad Nabi (0-29) then tied down Delhi in the middle overs with Khan claiming both his wickets in his last over when he removed Axar Patel and dangerman Colin Munro.
But Pant took charge by smashing seamer Basil Thampi for two sixes and two boundaries in the 18th over before falling to Bhvenshwar Kumar in the next over with Delhi needing five off Khaleel’s last over.
Earlier, after being put in to bat, New Zealand opener Martin Guptill top scored with 36 with Manish Pandey (30), captain Kane Williamson (28) and Vijay Shankar (25) making useful contributions.
Medium fast Paul picked up 3-32, including the wickets of Nabi and Khan in the last over of the innings.
“After the first half, we knew we would have to fight hard to defend this competitive total,” Williamson said. “We were able to squeeze them and bring it back, but these sort of wickets, you have to be clinical.”
Delhi will now meet Chennai Super Kings in the Qualifier 2 on Friday and the winner will take on Mumbai Indians in the final on Sunday.