Ajinkya Rahane's century was overshadowed by Rishabh Pant's unbeaten 78 as the explosive batsman led Delhi Capitals to a 6-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on Monday. The win also comes special for Delhi as they now go on top of the IPL table, overtaking Chennai Super Kings. (Match Highlights)
Setting up a target of 192, Delhi Capitals cruised as their openers Shikhar Dhawan (54) and Prithvi Shaw (42) set up a strong base before Pant could unleash upon Rajasthan. Once Dhawan departed, the 84-run partnership between Pant and Shaw almost sealed the deal before the latter was removed. (Match Scorecard)
Shaw had luck on his side as Ashton Turner dropped him on 10, and the young batsman capitalised on that by hitting a few boundaries.
After pulling Gopal for a four, Dhawan was stumped while going down the wicket, and DC skipper Shreyas Iyer fell to a horrendous shot.
But Shaw and Pant added runs in double quick time to help Delhi Capitals cross the line. While Shaw was contend to play second fiddle when Dhawan attacked, he opened up in the company of Pant, who found the fence regularly.
It was a mature knock by Pant, who reached his half century in 26 balls.
Earlier, blending panache with power, Ajinkya Rahane roared back to form with a scintillating century and propelled Rajasthan Royals to 191 for six.
Rahane remained not out on 105 off 63 balls, decorating his knock with three sixes and 11 fours, while Steve Smith contributed 50 off 32 deliveries.
Asked to bat after Iyer called correctly at the toss, Rahane spearheaded Rajasthan Royals' innings after getting a life on 16, the culprit being Ishant Sharma, who dropped a sitter at sort fine-leg. The drop hurt the visitors, but Delhi did well to prevent RR from going past 200.
Entering the game with over 650 runs against Delhi in the league, Rahane chose his favourite opponents to find form, and when he walked back to the dressing room, he had over 750 to his name.
To start with, Rahane drove Ishant through a crowded off-side field for a boundary, a shot that had his characteristic elegance written all over it.
Stripped of captaincy last week following a string of poor results, the 30-year-old went into attack mode and smashed Axar Patel for a six and a four at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium, which had a dash of pink.
Seeing the flight early, Rahane danced down the crowd to hoist's Axar ball over him and into the sightscreen.
Unfazed by the sight of pacer Kagiso Rabada steaming in, he smoked the South African's short of a length delivery down the ground for another maximum.
Rahane soon brought up his second IPL hundred, the first coming seven years ago.
He raised his bat to acknowledge the applause from the crowd and his dugout that was as relieved as the batsman himself.
Meanwhile, Smith, who replaced Rahane as captain hours before the start of their last match against Mumbai Indians, struck medium pacer Sherfane Rutherford for three consecutive boundaries to score his second successive half century of the season.
And even as Smith and Ben Stokes gout out in quick succession, Rahane was going strong, swiftly hitting Morris for a boundary over mid-off. At the other end, Ashton Turner fell for a third golden duck.