Rishabh Pant played one of his most destructive knocks as Delhi Capitals stormed to a 37-run win over three-time champions Mumbai Indians in their opening game of the 2019 Indian Premier League at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday. Pant smashed 78 not out off 27 balls as Delhi Capitals piled up 213 for 6 off their 20 overs.
Mumbai Indians managed only 176. For Mumbai to mount a serious challenge, they needed Rohit Sharma to fire at the top. But Rohit became Ishant Sharma’s first IPL wicket in 2 years, Suryakumar Yadav and Quinton de Kock became Ishant’s second IPL wicket in 2 years. In 5.5 overs, Mumbai’s chase was effectively over at 45 for 3.
Yuvraj Singh and Kieron Pollard added 50 in the next 5 overs and looked in good touch. Yuvraj, who had a poor time with Kings XI Punjab last year, played a couple of cracking shots and the dangerous Pollard gave Mumbai Indians a glimmer of hope.
In 2018, Yuvraj had managed a highest score of 20 for KXIP. On debut for Mumbai Indians, he went past 20 easily but the steadily climbing required rate meant he was under intense pressure. Hardik Pandya did not make Mumbai’s job any easier – he fell to Axar Patel for a two-ball duck.
It was a clinical performance by Delhi Capitals. With Ricky Ponting as coach and Sourav Ganguly as team advisor, the players looked a lot more settled and they knew what their roles were. None better than Rishabh Pant, who came out all guns blazing.
Shikhar Dhawan (43) and Colin Ingram (47) played important knocks but Pant destroyed Mumbai Indians. He broke MS Dhoni’s record for the fastest IPL fifty against Mumbai before doing more damage. He treated Jasprit Bumrah with disdain and finished with 78 not off 27 balls. A sweep for six off Bumrah left Rohit Sharma and Yuvraj Singh stunned.
Rishabh Pant is often criticised for the way he gets out in international cricket but like 2018, he looked a lot more at home in the IPL. Last year, he scored 684 runs in 14 matches and forced the national selectors to give him a look-in. Pant made the most of his chances in Test cricket and even finished as the second highest run-scorer behind Cheteshwar Pujara in the historic Test series win in Australia.
But Pant has been cause for concern with his glovework and batting in the shorter formats. The innings against Mumbai Indians will give him and the Indian team management plenty of confidence.