The spirited campaign of Delhi Daredevils was, on 3 May, bolstered by an emphatic eight-wicket win over the top-placed Gujarat Lions during the Indian Premier League (IPL) clash at the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium in Rajkot.
Riding on the batting heroics of their young openers Rishabh Pant (69) and Quinton de Kock (46), the visiting Delhi chased down Gujarat's moderate total of 149 runs with 16 balls to spare.
After scoring 10 off the first over and 14 in the second, the duo were off the blocks in a flash. The two left-handers scored 61 at over 10 runs an over, including nine boundaries, in the powerplay. At the same stage, the home side had managed to score just 35 runs at the loss of three big wickets.
A blistering start to Delhi's run-chase saw the required rate, which was 7.50 at the start of the innings, drop to a manageable 6.35. Both De Kock and Pant matched each other stroke for stroke, but it was the latter who appeared more aggressive of the two batsmen.
Giving a glimpse of his exploits in the U-19 World Cup, Pant cracked Dhawal Kulkarni for three consecutive boundaries in the second over. He went on to embarrass the opposition captain Suresh Raina who was clobbered for two fours and a six in the ninth over.
In the process, the 18-year-old cricketer notched up his fifty in a mere 25 balls and became the second-youngest player to score a half-century in the IPL. The budding talent looked impressive while playing scythed cuts off the seamers and using strong bottom hand to score boundaries through the midwicket region.
De Kock, who had hit a brief lean patch, looked happy to play the second fiddle to the teenager at the other end. The South African kept rotating the strike, apart from hitting the odd boundary. His opening partnership of 115 runs with Pant is now the highest for Delhi this season. The last five opening stands for Delhi in the IPL read: 24, 9, 11, 11, 2 and 1.
Their partnership was finally broken by Ravindra Jadeja who dismissed Pant in the 14th over. The Delhi batsman was looking to flay the slog over deep midwicket, but only managed to edge the ball onto his pad for the wicket-keeper to take a regulation catch.
Pant's sensational 40-ball innings came to an end at 69, including nine fours and two sixes. Chinaman Shivil Kaushik followed in the footsteps of Jadeja and handed Delhi another blow after getting rid of the dangerous De Kock who was caught in the 15th over.
JP Duminy (13) and Sanju Samson (19) got Delhi over the line with the latter smashing a towering six off Jadeja to help the visitors achieve the target in the 18th over.
Earlier, after being asked to bat, the home side didn't get going with the bat - for the second time in two matches. Their formidable top-order - comprising Dwayne Smith (15), Brendon McCullum (1) and Aaron Finch (5) - was sent packing for a mere 21 runs at the end of four overs.
Raina was looking to anchor the innings for Gujarat until he was undone by Amit Mishra who got him stumped on a wide delivery. With the hosts reeling at 75/4, Dinesh Karthik (53) and Ravindra Jadeja (36*) stitched a crucial partnership of 52 runs for the fifth wicket.
Karthik notched up a well-deserved fifty after smashing Mohammed Shami for a boundary in the 18th over. However, Shami extracted revenge on the very next delivery with his straight ball dislodging the stumps.
Gujarat lost two more wickets - James Faulkner (7) and Ishan Kishan (2) in the last two overs. Jadeja remained unbeaten in his 26-ball innings, including four fours and a six. The last time Jadeja made more than 20 runs in a T20 innings was back in April, 2015.
It was a disciplined bowling performance by Delhi that restricted the opposition to a below-par total. Shahbaz Nadeem (2-23), who dismissed Smith and Finch, was the pick of the bowlers for the visitors.
The rest of the wickets were shared by Zaheer (1-27), Chris Morris (1-32), Shami (1-31) and Mishra (1-19) who all had a good day with the ball for Delhi. The Delhi captain, who bowled 12 dot balls, was impressive as skipper yet again.
The victory has propelled Delhi to the second spot in the IPL standings with five wins in seven matches. On the other hand, the table-toppers Gujarat have now suffered two consecutive losses in nine games.