18-year-old Pant, playing in only his third IPL match, stole the limelight as he hit a 40-ball 69 with the help of nine fours and two sixes as the Daredevils chased down the target of 150 with 16 balls to spare at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium.
Uttarakhand boy Pant, who hit some exquisite shots including a six each off James Faulkner and Suresh Raina, stitched 115 runs for the opening wicket with Quinton de Kock (46) and that took the game away from the Lions who lost their second consecutive match and third in nine games.
With today’s win, their fifth in seven matches, the Daredevils now have 10 points to occupy the second spot behind the Lions who have 12 points from nine matches.The Daredevils made a flying start with de Kock and Pant finding the boundaries with ease.
Promoted up the order to open the innings, Pant struck three fours in successive deliveries in the second over bowled by Dhawal Kulkarni to make his intentions clear.
The left-handed opening duo of de Kock and Pant took the Daredevils to 50-run mark in the fifth over and to 61 for no loss at the end of powerplay overs with the help eight boundaries.
Pant reached to his 50 with a six off Raina as Daredevils were cruising towards the target by reaching 93 for no loss at the halfway stage.
The Lions’ bowlers, who were a bit wayward, had to wait till the 14th over to get a breakthrough. Pant while going for a slog off a Jadeja delivery could only manage an inside edge onto his pads for Karthik to take an easy catch.
De Kock was out in the 15th over as he holed out to Dwayne Smith at midwicket but it was too late for the Lions to make a comeback into the match as the Daredevils needed less than a run-a-ball to win the match.
Daredevils ended the formalities as Sanju Samson (19 not out) hit a six off a delivery bowled by Ravindra Jadeja to reach 150 for 2 in 17.2 overs.
Earlier, Dinesh Karthik (53) struck a solid half century to steer Gujarat Lions from a woeful start to a respectable 149 for seven after being put into bat.
The Lions, who lost their previous match after a spell of victories, made a disastrous start as they were reduced to 24 for 3 in the fourth over before Karthik’s 43-ball innings, which had five fours, took them to just below 150-mark.
Captain Suresh Raina (24) played his part in reviving the innings with a 51 run partnership with Karthik while Ravindra Jadeja chipped in with a useful unbeaten 36 towards the end.
For Daredevils, Shahbaz Nedeem took two wickets while Zaheer Khan, Chris Morris, Mohammed Shami and Amit Mishra got one each.
The Lions were in trouble soon after the start of the match and Brendon McCullum (1) was lucky to survive a close LBW shout off Nadeem, who opened the Daredevils bowling after making it to the playing eleven today.
But it was not McCullum’s day today and the New Zealander was cleaned up by Zaheer in the third over.
The next over, the Lions lost two wickets with Dwayne Smith (15) and Aaron Finch (5) perishing to Nadeem.
Smith hit it straight to long-on fielder Chris Morris while five balls later, Finch, making it to the playing eleven for the first time after playing Lions’ first three games, top-edged to Rishabh Pant at short fine leg while looking to slog sweep across the line.
The Lions were 24 for three then and they were looking down the barrel.
It was left to Raina and Karthik to steady the Lions’ innings and the duo did a fine job as they curb the big shots and concentrate on singles and doubles with occasional fours.
But just as it seemed the Lions have reached to a position of strength from where they can accelerate towards a challenging total, they lost Raina off a fine delivery from leggie Amit Mishra. The home side captain was completely beaten and Quinton de Kock effected a regular stumping.
Raina’s dismissal led to Karthik and new man in Jadeja playing cautiously for a while before they began to look for their shots. Karthik reached to his fifty with a boundary but the next ball he was out of the bowling of Mohammed Shami, with the delivery clipping the bails.
James Faulkner (7) could not contribute much as he fell to Chris Morris in the penultimate over. Jadeja hit a six in the final over which yielded 11 runs and remained not out to see his side set Delhi exactly 150 for a win.