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Stunning Samson, marauding Morris set up Delhi demolition

Wisden India logo Wisden India 11-04-2017

For long, Delhi Daredevils have been a side that banked on youngsters, hoping ‘promising’ talent would convert into performances. One such youngster in Sanju Samson took a giant leap forward on Tuesday (April 11), smashing a whirlwind century to lead a complete rout of Rising Pune Supergiant at the MCA Stadium in Pune.

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Samson’s 63-ball 102, studded with five sixes and eight lovely boundaries, was aided by handy cameos as Delhi powered to 205 for 4. It was far too much for a Pune side missing Steven Smith – he was down with a bad stomach – as Delhi bowled them out for 108 in 16.1 overs for a massive 97-run win, Delhi’s largest in IPL history.

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There were two versions of Samson on display today. The first one would have made purists proud for the gorgeous strokeplay, while the second was pure Twenty20 for the audacious hits. Both versions combined to hurt Pune, who had absolutely no answers.

Delhi lost Aditya Tare, edging Deepak Chahar behind for a duck in the second over, but the early wicket only meant Samson had almost an entire innings to showcase his skills.

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He wasted no time, getting off the mark with a classy drive to the deep cover fence, setting the tone for a barrage of beautiful drives and the occasional flick. Before Pune could realise what hit them, Samson raced past 30 with as many as six boundaries – each one classier and more elegant than the previous.

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Samson’s stylish strokeplay was aided by Ajinkya Rahane’s decision to go with an all-pace attack in the Power Play. The pitch played like a typical Pune one with true bounce, allowing Samson to hit through the line without second thoughts. Sam Billings also joined the fun in the sixth over taking three boundaries off Chahar, with Delhi 62 for 1 in six overs.

A much needed switch to spin resulted in Billings being bowled by Imran Tahir in the first ball of the ninth over, but as was the case with the previous dismissal, the batsman replacing him walked out with a clear intent to attack.

Rishabh Pant, fresh of a half-century against Royal Challengers Bangalore, made his approach clear when he slogged Tahir first ball and took over the role of aggressor against Pune’s slower bowlers. He got into the act with two sixes off Rajat Bhatia in the 12th over, allowing Samson to slow down a touch.

Watch: Bangalore clinch victory despite Rishabh Pant heroics

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Samson had raced to 31 off his first 14 balls, but in the next phase, he had 31 off 34, at which point Pant was run out with Mayank Agarwal scoring a direct hit in the 16th over. But with Pant’s departure, Samson unleashed his aggressive avatar once again. While Samson 1.0 had dealt in fours with classy strokeplay, Samson 2.0 was all about hitting sixes. He slog-swept Tahir over deep midwicket and followed it up with two more hits over the fence against Ashok Dinda to get into the 90s.

One would have expected some nerves ahead of his maiden IPL century, but Samson got to the landmark with perhaps the best shot of them all – a straight strike off Adam Zampa over the sightscreen. He fell next ball, bowled by a slider, but there would be no respite for Pune.

Chris Morris added salt to Pune’s massive wounds sending the ball into the crowd at will, walloping 38 off just nine balls helping Delhi plunder 45 runs from the last two overs to completely break the home side’s spirit.

The only way Pune could have got close was if their top-order fired. Zaheer Khan’s experience ensured that wouldn’t happen as he took out Ajinkya Rahane and Mayank Agarwal, both openers holing out trying for big shots.

Rahul Tripathi, playing his first game, began confidently with a couple of boundaries but Morris ended it with a quick bouncer, inducing the batsman to top-edge to short fine-leg.

The improbable task was left to the overseas pair of Faf du Plessis, playing his first game of the season, and Ben Stokes, but both fell in successive overs to kill any hope. Du Plessis edged Shahbaz Nadeem to the wicketkeeper while trying to play an overhead scoop, while Stokes fell in the same fashion trying to pull Pat Cummins.

It left Mahendra Singh Dhoni with a mountain to climb, and when he too fell helicoptering Amit Mishra to deep midwicket, the chase was as good as over.

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