Cliffhangers aren’t healthy for the heart, but they are good for the game as they set the tone for the rest of the tournament. Both Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Daredevils huffed and puffed, but eventually dished out yet another nail-biting contest of the season.
Fortunately or unfortunately, there has to be a winner at the end of a match and this time it was the Challengers who sealed the humdinger of a contest by 15 runs to register their maiden victory of the season at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.
However, it’s not imperative that the Player of the Match has to be from the winning side, and quite deservingly, the Sportskeeda Player of the Match goes to Rishabh Pant for his stupendous 57 runs from 36 balls. It’s not just only about the nuance of the knock he displayed on the field, but also a test of his character, especially at a time when he has faced a personal tragedy.
Pant lost his father on the 5th of April and attended the cremation ceremony on the next day, but came back with a bang to display his mettle and grit, both as a cricketer and as a human being. While the whole of India backed Pant to pull the match off for the Daredevils, the left-hander hardly let the recent jolts get to his nerves.
We take a look at the thrilling contest from the sixth game of Indian Premier League 2017.
Horrendous start for the Challengers
Before the encounter, only five times have teams opted to bat first in Bangalore in the IPL and RCB went for the audacious decision of putting themselves in on a batting paradise. It paid dividends as they kick-started their innings pretty dominantly courtesy an array of effortless boundaries by Watson.
At the other end, Chris Gayle looked to tee off but perished to a low full toss of Chris Morris that was pouched by Sanju Samson at mid-off. Mandeep Singh promised but succumbed after playing one shot too many as his middle stump was knocked back by Patrick Cummins.
Shahbaaz Nadeem bamboozled Shane Watson to inflict a body blow for the Challengers. With wickets going down like ninepins with not much of a score on the board, things were looking ominous for the Challengers as they looked down the barrel big time.
Resurrection act by Kedar Jadhav
But the Red Army had a pocket sized dynamite in store, who took the bowlers to the cleaners to bring RCB back into contention for a respectable score. The 13th over from Amit Mishra went for 24 runs that included two boundaries and a couple of humongous sixes over long-on.
In the space of 24 balls, that included overs from Carlos Brathwaite and Mishra, RCB racked up 61 runs to set the cat among the pigeons in the Delhi dugout. After Jadhav departed, the Delhi bowlers were back into business and restricted the Bangalore batsmen to a competitive, yet paltry score of 157, which is way below par in Bangalore.
The Pant show
With shorter boundaries, the chase shouldn’t have been tumultuous for Zaheer Khan and Co. Nevertheless, wickets pegged them back big time, and in spite of keeping up with the required rate, the Daredevils were always behind the 8-ball. Sam Billings looked dangerous, only to spoon a dolly of a catch to third man, which left Delhi in more than a spot of bother.
Delhi needed someone to hold one end up and play the sheet anchor’s role as well as hit the odd boundary to keep pegging away at the target. Rishabh Pant came in at the fall of the third wicket and didn’t take time in announcing himself as he swatted away Iqbal Abdullah for a graceful six in his very first ball.
That one shot had enough effect to put the skids under Abdullah as he speared in wide deliveries only to be cut with disdain by the left-handed Pant. The youngster lacked support from the other end but showed an unflustered and a tranquil outlook at the crease.
He seemed to be playing on a different pitch altogether as no other batsman got to terms with the deck and also the RCB bowlers, especially Shane Watson and Yuzvendra Chahal. With 19 runs required off the last over, Pawan Negi smashed the leg-stump of Pant and pulled down the curtains on the chances of a Daredevils victory.
Rishabh Pant, fell short of gifting his team a win in their opening game, but he did show that he is a batsman who could take on the big guns from across the world with sheer supremacy. Life’s unpredictable and can be cruel at times, and even at the tender age of 19, Pant can be exemplified as a role model for any upcoming cricketer in terms of standing tall during rough phases of life.