Delhi's pacers led by Zaheer Khan helped them defeat Pune by seven runs. © BCCI

Delhi’s pacers led by Zaheer Khan helped them defeat Pune by seven runs. © BCCI

It was an evening full of the good and the not-so-good from both Delhi Daredevils and Rising Pune Supergiant, and that added up to a thrilling contest, which ended with Delhi winning the Indian Premier League 2017 match by seven runs at Feroz Shah Kotla on Friday (May 12).

After opting to bat first, Delhi posted 168 for 8 and managed to restrict the formidable Pune batting to 161 for 7.

Their defence got off to the best start Delhi could have hoped for. Zaheer Khan bowled a dream ball first up – or a nightmare ball if you were Ajinkya Rahane – to pierce the little gap in the batsman’s defence and knock his middle stick down. It was clear that there was swing and bounce on offer, and Zaheer used it once again to trick Rahul Tripathi to nick one to Rishabh Pant behind the stumps not too long after.

With both openers back in the hut without making an impact, Delhi looked firmly in control, until Steven Smith and Manoj Tiwary got together to script a second-wicket stand of 36 off 30 balls to put Pune’s pursuit back on track.

Smith hit 38 from 32 before being trapped in front by Shahbaz Nadeem, who replaced Carlos Brathwaite, but Tiwary and Ben Stokes kept Pune in the hunt with a well crafted fourth-wicket stand of 51 from 39 balls.

When Stokes (33 in 25) holed out to Corey Anderson off Mohammed Shami in the 16th over, the equation read 44 off 26, and with MS Dhoni joining Tiwary and Dan Christian still to come, it looked like a simple affair. But a nervous spell ensued when Dhoni was run out by a direct hit from Shami, who also accounted for Christian five balls later to trigger panic in Pune’s camp.

With no big hitters at the death, and Pat Cummins doing as well as he possibly could in the last over, Tiwary was left with too much to do on his own. Even though he kept his side in the hunt with two sixes off the first two balls, Pune fell tantalisingly close in the end with Tiwary dismissed off the last ball for a 45-ball 60.

Earlier, Delhi were rattled by the early loss of Sanju Samson, who fell to a fantastic piece of fielding from Stokes, who splattered the stumps from short third man to catch the batsman short of his crease in the first over. Another big loss, in the form of Shreyas Iyer, followed in the third over when the youngster nicked Jaydev Unadkat to Dhoni behind the stumps.

Karun Nair and Pant got together with the scoreboard reading 9 for 2, and took the attack to Pune’s bowlers with a third-wicket stand of 74 from just 40 balls. Pant was the aggressor, hitting four fours and two sixes in his 22-ball 36 before hitting a quicker delivery from Adam Zampa, who came in after Imran Tahir left for national duty, straight into the hands of Christian at long-on.

Nair continued to resist, watching Marlon Samuels (27 in 21), Corey Anderson and Cummins walk back to the hut at the other end, and finally perished for a 45-ball 64 in the penultimate over of the innings. Nair’s knock was studded with nine hits to the fence.

Delhi had reached 163 for 7 in 19 overs, and would have hoped for Shami to connect a few to help them end well. Shami did swat one towards the midwicket fence, but another terrific effort from Stokes ensured Delhi didn’t finish with a blitz. Stokes leapt in the air, grabbed the ball and lobbed it up before stepping back over the ropes and completing the catch, and save six runs. Those extra runs could have mattered but, in the end, what Delhi managed to rack up proved enough to pick up a consolation victory.

The loss left the second spot on the eight-team points table up for grabs between three teams – Pune (16 points), Kolkata Knight Riders (16) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (15) – with each left with one match to do as much as they can.