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IPL 2024: Rishabh Pant slams fifty after 900 days as Delhi trounce Chennai

The Delhi Capitals captain walked off to a standing ovation after his first IPL fifty since 2021 and after he crashed his Mercedes north of New Delhi before dawn in December 2022.

Supporters show solidarity with Delhi Capitals’ captain Rishabh Pant during the match against Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League 2024, at Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium in Visakhapatnam on Sunday, March 31, 2024. (ANI Photo)

By: Shubham Ghosh

RISHABH Pant led from the front with his first IPL fifty since his comeback from a horror car crash as Delhi Capitals beat Chennai Super Kings by 20 runs on Sunday.

Captain Pant hit 51 off 32 balls after fellow left-hander David Warner smashed 52 and helped Delhi to 191-5 in Visakhapatnam — the adopted homeground for the Capitals due to the upcoming general elections.

But the fans in the south Indian city largely represented Chennai as they chanted (M.S. Dhoni) “Dhoni, Dhoni” — the former skipper obliging with an unbeaten 37 off 16 balls, including four fours and three sixes.

Delhi restricted Chennai to 171-6 for their first win of the season and hand their opponents a loss after two opening victories.

Read: IPL 2024: Rishabh Pant returns to field after 15 months, gets angry over own dismissal

Khaleel Ahmed returned bowling figures of 2-21 to be named man of the match and Mukesh Kumar took three wickets.

“Bowlers have been clinical today,” said Pant. “We’ve learnt from our mistake. He’s been working hard for the last two weeks.”

Warner and Prithvi Shaw, who hit 43, put on an opening stand of 93 before Chennai’s bowlers hit back with wickets including Matheesha Pathirana’s two strikes in an over.

Read: Gujarat pick second IPL 2024 win as Mohit-Miller show thrashes Hyderabad

Pathirana also played a part in Warner’s dismissal after he took a stunning one-handed catch behind the stumps off an attempted reverse scoop from the left-handed Australian.

Pant, who returned to the T20 tournament after 14 months away from top level cricket, came in on the back of two innings of 18 and 28 and took time to settle in.

He started slowly but gained momentum at the backend as he smashed Pathirana for two fours and a six on successive balls, but the bowler had his revenge on the fourth.

“Took my time initially because I haven’t played much cricket, but I kept believing I could change the match,” Pant said of his hits — including a vintage one-handed flick for six.

Pathirana, known as “Baby Malinga” for his slinging action and trademark yorkers similar to the former Sri Lankan pace ace Lasith Malinga, returned figures of 3-31.

Pant walked off to a standing ovation after his first IPL fifty since 2021 and after he crashed his Mercedes north of New Delhi before dawn in December 2022.

Suffering multiple injuries when the car rammed into a crash barrier, flipped over and caught fire, Pant was rushed to hospital before being airlifted to Mumbai for further treatment and surgery.

Chennai, who witnessed a captaincy change at the start of the season when the 42-year-old Dhoni handed over the leadership to Ruturaj Gaikwad, lost two early wickets including Rachin Ravindra for two.

Ajinkya Rahane (45) and Daryl Mitchell (34) put on 68 runs in their attempt to revive the chase but the duo’s departure saw wickets fall in clusters.

(AFP)

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