SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Shikhar Dhawan scored his first Twenty20 century and Axar Patel blasted three sixes in the last over as Delhi Capitals beat Chennai Super Kings by five wickets on Saturday to go top of the Indian Premier League.
Earlier at Dubai, AB de Villiers smashed four sixes in the last two overs and earned Royal Challengers Bangalore a seven-wicket win against unimpressive Rajasthan Royals.
Delhi leads with 14 points after its seventh win in nine games. Bangalore is joint second with Mumbai on 12 points.
The defeats pushed Rajasthan and Chennai into a very tight corner with six points each from nine games and only five league matches left.
Dhawan was unbeaten on 101 off 58 balls, hitting 14 fours and a six, but the lefthander was dropped three times and also successfully went for referral just before reaching his first hundred.
Patel was 21 not out off only five balls, and his last-over blitz against the left-arm spin of Ravindra Jadeja carried Delhi to 185-5 with a ball to spare in reply to Chennai’s total of 179-4.
Dhawan was twice dropped in the 20s and, soon after completing his half century, survived again when Chennai captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni couldn’t hold onto a low edge. The Delhi opener also successfully overturned an lbw decision through a review on 99 before reaching the landmark with a single.
“It is very special,” Dhawan said. “I’ve been playing for 13 years and this is the first (century), so really happy,” Dhawan said. “I keep my mindset quite positive. Just look to score runs and not think pitch is doing this or that. I play with courage. I am not afraid to get out.”
Faf du Plessis had top-scored with 58 for Chennai, with the total boosted by Ambati Rayudu’s 45 off 25 and Jadeja’s 13-ball knock of 33 with four sixes.
Despite all their fielding lapses, Chennai stretched the game into the last over with Delhi requiring 17 to win. But Patel hit Jadeja (0-35) for two sixes off the second and third deliveries and sealed the victory in style off the penultimate ball with another six over long-on.
“Shikhar’s wicket was important but we dropped him quite a number of times," Dhoni said. “The wicket played better in the second half, but we can’t take the credit away from Shikhar."
Fast bowler Deepak Chahar had grabbed two early wickets to finish with 2-18 and Shardul Thakur removed dangerman Marcus Stoinis (24) in the 16th over to give Chennai a glimmer of hope.
There were sixes galore in the IPL on Saturday. With Bangalore needing 35 off the last two overs, de Villiers hammered three successive sixes off left-arm seamer Jaydev Unadkat’s first three balls of the 19th over. That over ended up costing 25 runs as Unadkat finished with 0-46 from four overs.
De Villiers finished on 55 not out off 22 balls. He brought up victory by hitting Jofra Archer for a big six over midwicket as Bangalore reached 179-3 with two deliveries to spare.
“I want to perform for the team and show the owners I’m here for a good reason,” de Villiers said. “When Unadkat was bowling, I was looking leg side but to be honest I was nervous because I knew I had to hit it well, luckily I got a few away.”
South Africa pacer Chris Morris took 4-26 to restrict Rajasthan to 177-6 despite skipper Steve Smith returning to form with 57 off 36. Smith had struggled in the previous six games since notching back-to-back half centuries in the first two games at Sharjah.
Morris, who removed England’s Ben Stokes (15) and Jos Buttler (24), bowled an excellent last over for just four runs and took two wickets.
Morris had Smith caught at sweeper cover and got Archer leg before wicket off a toe-crushing last ball of the innings.
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