NEW DELHI: An early blow can have two possible outcomes in any sport. It can be taken as a wake up call as there is still lots of time to recover. Or, you can get dejected and go down in a humiliating manner. As for Rising Pune Supergiant, the second was the case as Delhi Daredevils registered a 7-run victory at the Feroz Shah Kotla to frustrate Steve Smith and co. For Pune, that early blow was when veteran pacer Zaheer Khan rolled back memories with a swinging delivery to stun Ajinkya Rahane. India's best Test batsman had no reply to Zaheer's beauty as his middle stump was uprooted in the very first ball of the chase. Steve Smith's team who could have assured a place in the playoffs with win today, had all the firepower with them to chase down a target of 168. But, somehow, there were not able to. In a state of shock, Pune suffered another blow when Zaheer took care of of Rahul Tripathi in the 5th over. This time it was a slow off cutter. Tripathi thought that there was no contact when he tried to cut the ball. Even Zaheer thought the same. But Pant went straight ahead and appealed. As the umpire raised his hand, the crowd at Kotla erupted as the visitors lost both their openers with just 36 runs on the board.
Nadeem who came in as replacement took the most crucial wicket when he got Smith in the 10th over. A flat delivery tricked the Aussie as he was struck in front of the off stump. But Delhi was not superior as well. They could have finished the game early if not for two dropped catches in the 14th and 15th over. Tiwary was lucky on both the ocassions. Though the first one was a fine effort from Sanju Samson, the second one was a sitter. After skying a slow ball fromZaheer Khan, Nair had all the time in the world to get him out. But a lapse of concentration spoiled the chance. Mohammed Shami too had a great role. First, a low full toss earned him the wicket of the dangerous Ben Stokes. But a stunning throw from the medium pacer from short fine leg got Dhoni, who was Pune's last hope to win the game.
Delhi did not have a great start as well. Sanju Samson paid the price for a poor decision on Karun Nair's part in the first over of the innings. Jaydev Unadkat's good length delivery was directed towards the back point with Ben Stoke lurking. With absolutely no chance of getting a run, Karun signalled for Sanju. Stoke who collected the ball made it look easy as the visitors had their first breakthrough.
Rishabh Pant turned on the style like he has done on many occasions this season once he came in. Combining with Nair, he helped Delhi reach a respectable 54 at the end of Powerplay. Washington Sundar was feeling the heat as he smashed one just outside the off stump to delight the home crowd. Nair who made a poor decision in the beginning, chipped in from time to time with some classy boundaries. But Adam Zampa who replaced Imran Tahir proved his worth as he got Pant in the 9th over. Their 74-run partnership for the third wicket hlped Delhi get 83 runs from 9 overs. Marlon Samuels's two sixes against Shardul Thakur suggested a dangerous innings. But that was all he did. From 21 balls, he managed only 27 runs.
Nair was still steady and was looking for someone to have a strong partnership with again. Unfortunately that did not happen. Corey Anderson and Pat Cummins who were next in line got out in a gap of two overs. Sundar who initially got some battering got Anderson. But credit goes to Dhoni again. He swiftly got the bails off after he missed a shot. For Anderson, the slow motion replays showed that his foot was in the air and he had to go too. Amit Mishra, Mohammed Shami and Shahbaz Nadeem were also not helpful as they scored a total of 15 runs. But in the end, the they somehow managed to scrape through to finish on a high.