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IPL 2024: Rishabh Pant & Axar Patel fifties; Rasikh’s three-fer help DC edge GT by four runs (Ld)

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New Delhi, April 24 (IANS) Captain Rishabh Pant enthralled the home crowd by slamming an unbeaten 88 off 43 balls, while Axar Patel hit a 43-ball 66 and impact player Rasikh Salam picked a three-fer as Delhi Capitals edged Gujarat Titans by four runs in a thrilling run-fest to secure their fourth win of the tournament at the Arun Jaitley Stadium on Wednesday.

After Pant and Axar fifties, along with Tristan Stubbs’ unbeaten 26 lift DC to a mammoth 224/4, GT were quick in their run-scoring, thanks to 65 from B Sai Sudarshan, followed by 55 from David Miller. But DC triumphed in the end to get those crucial two points in a proper run-fest.

GT had the upper hand after electing to bowl first, thanks to Sandeep Warrier’s triple strikes in power-play and leave DC in trouble. But Pant and Axar took their time, before launching a stunning onslaught against spinners to form a decisive 113-run partnership for the fourth wicket.

Axar made his promotion to number three count by hitting five fours and four sixes in his eye-catchy knock at a strike-rate of 153.49. Pant, after being scratchy in his 44 against Sunrisers Hyderabad, was at his magnificent best in hitting eight sixes and five fours at a strike-rate of 204.6.

The duo being phenomenal with the bat meant GT spinners were rendered ineffective in middle overs and the visitors’ bowlers were promptly taken for cleaners in the death overs. Moreover, Warrier didn’t bowl out his final over, as DC took 97 runs in their final five overs.

Prithvi Shaw and Jake Fraser-McGurk hit six delightful boundaries as DC reached 34/0 in three overs. But Warrier bounced back in the fourth over after conceding 12 runs in his opening over.

The fast-bowler first had Fraser-McGurk flicking off the bottom edge to deep square leg, followed by getting Shaw to mistime a pull, with Noor Ahmad running in from deep square leg to take a diving catch. Warrier got his third power-play wicket when Shai Hope sliced away from his body and was caught at backward point, as DC ended the six-over phase with 44/3.

Axar got a move on by crashing a drive off Omarzai, before nailing a slog-sweep for six on a Rashid Khan googly. He and Pant took a pulled four each off Rashid’s short balls, followed by the latter slog-sweeping Noor Ahmad for a four and six each.

Axar continued to thrive against spinners – driving and cutting with ease for his boundaries, while Pant feasted on Mohit Sharma’s short balls by pulling and slicing to take a brace of fours. Axar lofted a drive off Shahrukh Khan for six, before reaching his fifty in 37 balls with a pulled four off Rashid.

Pant was delightful in the 16th over against Mohit - whipping off his pads and thumping a slower ball over long-off for a brace of sixes, before bringing up the century of the fourth-wicket stand. Axar then hammered Noor for back-to-back sixes in the 17th over before holing out to long-on to fall for a 43-ball 66.

Pant got his fifty in 34 balls by lofting a full-toss from Mohit over long-on for six, and was met with a grand applause from the crowd. GT brought in R Sai Kishore’s left-arm spin in the 19th over to counter right-handed Tristan Stubbs.

But the batter creamed the drives twice in the gap between extra-cover and long-off, followed by clubbing the spinner for two mammoth sixes over long-on in the 22-run over. In the last over, Pant managed to clear long-on for six and sliced a four despite losing balance against Mohit. He cut loose with his pull, loft and swivel fetching him maximums on last three balls of the innings to take 31 runs off the final over.

In chasing 225, Shubman Gill fell early in his 100th IPL game after mistiming the loft to mid-on off Anrich Nortje. Wriddhiman Saha and Sudharsan hit ten boundaries between themselves in the remainder of power-play, including taking 17 runs off Khaleel Ahmed in the third over.

Sudarshan had some luck on his side, after being dropped on 17 by Axar at mid-on on Rasikh’s bowling, as GT ended power-play at 67/1. Sudarshan was neat in cutting and glancing Axar for consecutive fours. But Kuldeep Yadav struck as Saha slashed hard and Axar jumped in the nick of time to pluck the catch out of thin air.

Sudarshan completed his fifty in 29 balls, but saw GT go from 94/1 to 98/3 as Axar had Omarzai caught by Fraser-McGurk rushing in and diving forward from deep mid-wicket to complete a sensational catch. Sudarshan and Miller would hit a boundary each, before the former holed out to long-off against Rasikh.

Rasikh then took out Shahrukh Khan, as Pant took a sharp catch after standing up to the stumps, followed by him taking Rahul Tewatia’s catch on Kuldeep’s last ball. With 73 runs needed off 24 balls, Miller feasted on Nortje’s short and full balls by hitting a four and three sixes before reaching his fifty in 21 balls with a brace as 24 runs came off the 17th over.

After Rashid was dropped by Abishek Porel on first ball of the 18th over, Miller glanced Mukesh for four, before clipping straight to deep backward square leg and fall for a 23-ball 55. With 37 runs needed off 12 balls, Rashid worked Rasikh for a boundary and Stubbs even saved a six of him, followed by Kishore keeping match alive with consecutive sixes, before being castled by the pacer.

The equation came down to 19 runs in the final over, and Rashid began by whipping Mukesh for a four in the gap between long-on and mid-wicket. When the pacer pitched it wide, Rashid was quick to slash over extra cover for a boundary.

After two dot balls, Rashid lofted a six over long-off. With three runs needed off the last ball, Rashid hit off a yorker, but the ball went one bounce to long-off, as DC held their nerve to get a tight win.

Brief Scores: Delhi Capitals 224/4 in 20 overs (Rishabh Pant 88 not out; Axar Patel 66; Sandeep Warrier 3-15) beat Gujarat Titans 220/8 in 20 overs (B Sai Sudharsan 65, David Miller 55; Rasikh Salam 3-44, Kuldeep Yadav 2-29) by four runs

--IANS

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