Bolstered Supergiants secure vital win
Rising Pune Supergiants 166 for 3 (Rahane 63*, Tahir 2-26) beat Delhi Daredevils 162 for 7 (Duminy 34, Bhatia 2-22, Boland 2-31) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Rising Pune Supergiants had been marred by four major injuries in the last two weeks and were reeling at the bottom half of the points table with six losses from eight matches. But against Delhi Daredevils at the Feroz Shah Kotla, they fell back on the reliable shoulders of Ajinkya Rahane, Rajat Bhatia and a brisk innings from IPL debutant Usman Khawaja to hand the hosts their second loss in their last four matches.
Supergiants first restricted Daredevils to 162 by slowing them down in the middle overs and taking regular wickets. The top order then, led by Rahane's unbeaten and unflustered 63, made sure the chase, which got slightly tense towards the end, was sealed with five balls to spare.
This looked like anyone's game when Supergiants needed 37 from the last three overs. Captain MS Dhoni, who promoted himself to No. 4, struck a four and a straight six off Mohammed Shami, soon after five wides earlier in the 18th over, to bring the equation down to 17 from 12. Iman Tahir removed Dhoni with the first ball of the 19th over but two lusty sixes from Thisara Perera meant Supergiants needed three from the last over and Rahane finished it with a flicked four.
Khawaja and Rahane accelerated in the chase after the third over by mainly targeting the quicks. They saw through Jayant Yadav's three overs of offspin and reached 50 when the Powerplay ended. Amit Mishra's googly and thrift then combined to stump Khawaja, who had already been dropped on 8 and had survived run-out chances on 9 and 22, for 30.
Rahane continued in his usual risk-free and unruffled fashion and he was hardly troubled by JP Duminy and Carlos Brathwaite in a second-wicket partnership of 45 with Saurabh Tiwary. But Tahir had Tiwary caught at deep midwicket in the 14th over. By then, Supergiants were still 59 adrift with 40 balls remaining.
Dhoni smashed his fourth ball for a six and after Supergiants took 13 runs off the next 16 balls, they needed 37 from 18. Duminy gave the ball to Shami who sent five wides way down the leg side on the second ball of the over and once Dhoni took strike, he tilted the momentum back with consecutive boundaries to make it easier for Rahane.
Daredevils, who were asked to bat, were largely anchored by their stand-in captain Duminy, as Zaheer Khan had a niggle, but other batsmen could not convert starts into big scores. Once Dinda knocked over Rishabh Pant's off stump in the third over, Karun Nair and Sanju Samson started scoring boundaries on both sides of the pitch to lift the run rate above eight. But Samson handed a simple catch to midwicket on the last ball of the Powerplay.
Duminy, meanwhile, kept the score ticking by scoring at nearly run a ball but was running out of partners. Bhatia took the pace off the ball for another economical spell and Nair soon holed out to sweeper cover, for 32 off 23, while trying to break free.
Sam Billings combined with Duminy to quickly score 24 runs out of the 45 they put together in five overs. Billings had struck R Ashwin for two consecutive sixes and posed a big threat before a switch-hit ended his innings. Brathwaite then took on M Ashwin for two more sixes but impressive fielding from Rahane and Tiwary resulted in two run-outs. Pawan Negi's unbeaten 19 off 12 balls provided Daredevils a late push but it wasn't enough.
Vishal Dikshit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo