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Pant stands tall, but Bangalore pull through

Wisden India logo Wisden India 08-04-2017

Buoyed by chants of ‘Aarr Cee Bee … Aarr Cee Bee’, after Kedar Jadhav’s calculative 37-ball 69 and his 66-run stand with Stuart Binny had taken them to 157 for 8, Royal Challengers Bangalore produced a spirited show on the field to beat Delhi Daredevils by 15 runs in the 2017 Indian Premier League at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Saturday (April 8).

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The game, though, will also be remembered for how Rishabh Pant kept his emotions in check to make an attractive 36-ball 57 in a losing cause three days after his father succumbed to a heart attack. He lacked support from the rest as Delhi were restricted to 142 for 9.

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Delhi were 55 for 3 in 7.3 overs when Pant, who rejoined the team on Friday, took guard. He hit the first ball he faced from Iqbal Abdulla for a six over midwicket. Quite a statement from the teenager, who will likely go on to play many special knocks but will always draw strength from this innings.

He had added 29 with Sanju Samson when Billy Stanlake, one of the two IPL debutants for Bangalore, had Samson caught at long-on with a short ball bowled outside off stump. Abdulla trapped Chris Morris in front of the wicket, Yuzvendra Chahal and Shane Watson bowled Carlos Brathwaite and Pat Cummins respectively as Delhi became 125 for 7. Pant was left to get 33 off 22 balls with only the tail for company. He tried his best, but there was little he could do to get Amit Mishra put bat to ball and give him the strike back.

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Pant’s bat speed was amazing as he committed completely to his strokes every time the ball was in his hitting range. He was not afraid to play across the line. Bangalore could not break his determination but unfortunately for Delhi, Pant could not face all the deliveries.

With 19 needed off the final over bowled by Pawan Negi, Pant was bowled trying to sweep the first ball.

Before Pant’s heroics, Jadhav stole the show to rescue Bangalore, who were 55 for 3 in the first nine overs after they won the toss.

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What was especially memorable about Jadhav’s knock was how he lined himself up against every bowler and how steady his head remained while he played his strokes, targeting the short boundary. Jadhav shifted gears with 24 runs in the 13th over bowled by Mishra. The sequence in that over read: 2 (long-on), 6 (long-on), 4 (long-off), 4 (long-on), 2 (extra-cover) and 6 (midwicket). Brathwaite conceded 14 in the following over as Bangalore took charge with 40 runs in 12 balls.

Of his five sixes in his maiden fifty for Bangalore, two of which were lofted over extra-cover, the most delightful was the one he hit straight over Brathwaite’s head by clearing his front foot and covering the stumps with his back foot, having hit a four with similar technique in the previous delivery.

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The game started with Chris Gayle 31 short of becoming the first batsman to make 10,000 T20 runs, but he was tied down before hitting a full toss from Morris to mid-off where Samson took a diving catch just outside the 30-yard circle. Mandeep Singh was stuck on his crease to be bowled by Cummins, and Shahbaz Nadeem beat Watson with his length to have him beautifully stumped by Pant.

Zaheer brought himself back for his third over and struck with his last ball when Binny stepped out to chip him straight to Sam Billings at deep midwicket. The Delhi captain then ran out Vishnu Vinod, and had Jadhav caught by Morris at mid-off in the last three balls of his final over to pull the game back.

Jadhav’s dismissal proved crucial as after that, Bangalore hit just one six and lost two more wickets in their last three overs. Zaheer’s astute captaincy and Morris’s returns of 3 for 21 looked to have sealed the deal for Delhi, but Bangalore went home with two points.

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