Pant fully focused on Delhi’s resurgence in IPL

New Delhi: After guiding Delhi Daredevils to a much-needed four-run win against Rajasthan Royals, with a flamboyant 29-ball 69, Rishabh Pant said his primary focus is to do well for his Indian Premier League (IPL) team and not think about a prospective international future.

“I’m not thinking anything of that (getting into the India team) right now. I’m just trying to do well for the team, that’s all,” Pant said after Delhi clinched the rain-affected clash at the Feroz Shah Kotla.

Pant emerged as the leading run-getter of this season on Wednesday, but more importantly helped the struggling Delhi side get those crucial two points and stay alive for a berth in the Indian Premier League (IPL) play-offs.

“Actually we were batting brilliantly in all the matches but small mistakes came in our way. Now we are making sure that doesn’t happen and we win all our matches,” he said.

What seems to have influenced Pant’s exuberant form is the platform given by teenaged opener Prithvi Shaw’s opening blasts and he was effusive in the praise of the Under-19 World Cup winning captain.

“He was brilliant from day one. Just that he was not getting a chance. He was practising very well though. And when he got a chance he capitalised on it,” said Pant.

As far as his display is concerned, Pant says he is given no particular brief while batting.

“Everyone has a different role in the team. They (Shaw and Shreyas Iyer) are playing up the order so they have to maintain the run rate. They are doing a pretty good job.”

“And after that I’m coming in and doing my job. There is no such brief actually. Everyone is just taking the responsibility for the team,” he said.

Despite their strong batting show, Delhi ultimately were bailed out by the skilful bowling of Trent Boult (2/26) in the last over after Jos Buttler set up RR’s chase with a 26-ball 67.

“It was a really important win, coming in this situation, was a heart-throbbing match,” Delhi captain Iyer said. “On this wicket, even 200 is less, but the bowlers kept their nerves and came back strong.”

Rajasthan won the toss and opted to field after the match was reduced to 18-overs-a-side due to rain.

Captain Shreyas Iyer (50) and young Shaw (47) laid a solid foundation with a 73-run second wicket stand after Colin Munro was dismissed for a duck in the very first over.

Pant then provided acceleration with his powerful hitting as he hit five sixes and seven boundaries and put on 92 runs with Iyer for the third-wicket stand off 43 balls.

Left-arm seamer Jaydev Unadkat (3-46) removed Pant and Iyer in the 15th over, but both batsmen had led Delhi toward a strong total.

Buttler gave Rajasthan a brisk start of 82 runs off just 40 deliveries in an electrifying run chase as the Englishman hit seven sixes and four boundaries.

But Rajasthan lost three quick wickets and lost the momentum after leg-spinner Amit Mishra outfoxed Buttler with a googly and Pant did a smart stumping.

Boult removed big hitters Sanju Samson (3) and Ben Stokes (1) while D’Arcy Short (44) was caught at short third man off Glenn Maxwell’s offspin.

Rajasthan also has six points but is one place behind Delhi on net run-rate.

“We are definitely disappointed. Buttler was amazing, but we could’ve batted better,” Rajasthan captain Ajinkya Rahane said. “We’re still in the tournament … all games are knockouts for us. It’s all in the minds now. Character and attitude will be important.”

Seventh-placed Delhi will now travel to Hyderabad for Sunday’s clash against the Sunrisers.

Brief scores

Delhi Daredevils 196/6 (Rishabh Pant 69, Shreyas Iyer 50, Prithvi Shaw 47; Jaydev Unadkat 3/46) beat Rajasthan Royals 146/5 (Jos Buttler 67, D Arcy Short 44; Trent Boult 2/26) by 4 runs by D/L method