The hosts suffered a serious blow just before the start of the game as their in-form skipper Steve Smith was ruled out of the all important encounter due to an upset stomach. Ajinkya Rahane was handed over the reins in the absence of the Australian and there was very little he could do as his bowlers were taken to the cleaners and smashed all around the park.
It was the Sanju Samson show all through the first innings at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune as the youngster scripted his way into the record books by scoring the first hundred of the tenth edition of the Indian Premier League.
With the Delhi side under the pump after failing to chase 158 against the Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Chinnaswamy Stadium a few days back, the batting unit needed to step up and take the responsibility. The inexperienced batting line-up did exactly the same as they put up a mammoth 205 in the first innings after being put into bat.
The crowd were treated to an absolute master-class from Samson as he dismantled the opposition by scoring a magnificent century to help his team set a huge first innings total. The youngster from Kerala scored his maiden IPL hundred and by virtue of this amazing performance, is the SK Player of the Day.
The 22-year-old came into bat at number three after the fall of Aditya Tare’s wicket and started off his innings in a commanding fashion. He smashed Deepak Chahar for consecutive boundaries through the covers in the second over of the innings. He continued to dominate the bowlers in the powerplay and was benefited with some poor bowling by the pace attack of the Supergiant.
He pounced on anything that was full outside the off stump and constantly pierced the packed off-side field with his superb placement. He was equally good on the back foot as he pulled the short deliveries comfortably. Along with Sam Billings, he helped Delhi score 62 runs in the powerplay which set the foundation for a massive first innings total.
Playing the anchor role in the middle overs
The right-handed batsman continued to build on his aggressive start by rotating the strike in the middle overs along with Rishabh Pant. The duo were involved in a crucial partnership of 53 runs for the third wicket. Samson played the anchor role throughout the partnership and got to his half-century in 41 balls with a mistimed pull to long on.
His matured knock in the middle overs helped the Daredevils build a strong platform and launch a brutal attack in the death overs. Samson was patient in the middle overs scoring his runs in singles and doubles. He got his first six of the night when he launched Adam Zampa over long off in the 14th over and there was no stopping him thereafter.
Carnage in the death overs
Samson changed gears immediately after the dismissal of Pant in the 16th over as he unleashed a wide array of strokes. He flicked the very next ball to the fine leg boundary off Stokes and slammed a huge six over midwicket in the following over against Imran Tahir.
He was severe on Ashok Dinda as he thrashed him for 19 runs in the 18th over of the innings which included two massive sixes and one four. He kept targeting the straight boundary and reached his landmark with a glorious six towards the sight screen in the first ball of the penultimate over bowled by Zampa.
Although he was dismissed a ball later for a brilliant 102 off 63 balls with eight fours and five maximums, the damage had already been done.
His efforts propelled Delhi to a massive first innings score of 205 which is also the highest total at the MCA Stadium in Pune.
The youngster has been criticised for his shot selection throughout his career and has often let his team down by throwing away his wicket at crucial junctures of the game. The Delhi team management should be credited for keeping faith in this talented kid and he did not let them down.
His marvellous innings today was surely an indication of great things to come in the future, not only for the Delhi Daredevils but also for the Indian team.