|| AFP ||
Delhi Capitals captain Rishabh Pant guided his side through a frustrating game to hammer Rajasthan Royals by 33 runs and take the lead in the Indian Premier League on Saturday.
Pant hit 24 and Shreyas Iyer 43 as Delhi made 154 for six in their 20 overs. The batsman wicketkeeper then claimed two catches and a stumping to leave Rajasthan struggling on 17 for three in their chase.
Despite a stubborn unbeaten 70 from captain Sanju Samson, Rajasthan could only reach 121 for six in their innings.
It was only the third time that Delhi have defended a total of 154 or less to win in the IPL -- all three have been against Rajasthan.
But the victory pulled them two points ahead of Chennai Super Kings at the top of the eight-team league. They are not yet officially into the playoffs but no team has failed to qualify with 16 points.
Iyer's fiery 43 to put backbone into Delhi's innings as wickets fell regularly.
Openers Prithvi Shaw (10) and Shikhar Dhawan (8) went cheaply, leaving Iyer and Pant to put on Delhi's best partnership of 62 for the third wicket.
Iyer was stumped by Samson having lasted 32 balls and hit two sixes. Afterwards only Shimron Hetmyer with his 28 off 16 balls made an impact.
Mustafizur Rahman and Chetan Sakariya each took two wickets from four overs on an encouraging day for the Rajasthan bowlers on the slow Abu Dhabi pitch.
But their batters could not follow through.
England's Liam Livingstone went on the sixth ball of the Rajasthan innings, for a single run, giving an underneath edge off Avesh Khan that Pant dived forward to catch.
With the first ball of the next over, Anrich Nortje forced Yashasvi Jaiswal (5) to edge another ball to Pant.
David Miller lasted 10 balls before he was stumped by Pant off Ravichandran Ashwin having made seven.
Sansom hit eight fours and a big six in the final over but never found a partner to keep Rajasthan in contention.
"I thought the total was chaseable but we lost too many wickets and weren't able to get any momentum," said Sansom, who added that changes could be made for the next game with his side still in the race for the playoffs.