New Delhi: Riding on opener Ajinkya Rahane's fifth half-century of the tournament, Rising Pune Supergiants beat Delhi Daredevils by seven wickets in a league match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium on Friday.
Continuing his consistent run with the willow, the 27-year-old Rahane completed his 50 off just 38 balls, and his unbeaten 63 came off 48 balls with seven hits to the fence.
Chasing 163, Pune got off to a brilliant start with Rahane and Usman Khawaja (30) laying a solid platform but leg-spinner Amit Mishra finally managed to put the brakes.
Khwaja, playing his first IPL game, forged a 59-run stand with Rahane before being stumped off Mishra by Sanju Samson. His 27-ball knock was laced with two boundaries and a six.
Keeping the left-right combination intact, Saurabh Tiwary (21) joined Rahane in the middle clobbered Mishra for a towering six. Scoring 18 off 21, he added 45 runs for the second wicket with Rahane before Delhi's South African recruit Imran Tahir packed him back as he tried to slog-sweep a ball from outside off only to be caught at deep midwicket by Sam Billings.
With the visitors needing 59 from 40 deliveries, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (27) decided to promote himself to No 3 and the ploy paid off.
Rahane and Dhoni started milking the Delhi bowlers at will with the Ranchi batsman being the more destructive of the two, clobbering Mohammed Shami for a four and a straight six off consecutive deliveries.
But just when things started slipping out of the home side's hands, Tahir infused some life into the Delhi crowd by dismissing Dhoni, thanks to a brilliant running catch from Billings to end the 42-run third wicket stand.
With the visitors needing 17 off 11 balls, Sri Lankan all-rounder Thisara Perera (14) joined Rahane in the middle and dispatched Tahir for a brilliant six over long on and then another over deep midwicket to reduce the gap.
Needing three from the last over, Perera escaped a last minute scare as he was caught off a no ball from Shami on the very first delivery but Rahane hit a brilliant four towards the square leg boundary to seal the game in Pune's favour.
Earlier, Pune restricted Delhi Daredevils to 162 for seven after winning the toss and electing to field.
Delhi got off to a poor start losing the early wicket of Rishabh Pant, the hero of the last match against Gujarat Lions with a brilliant half-century.
His fall brought in Karun Nair, who stitched a quickfire 35-run stand for the second wicket with Samson.
Both Nair and Samson looked dangerous as they hammered the bowlers at will to take Delhi to 48 at the end of the powerplay. But pacer Scot Boland brought the visitors back into the game by dismissing Samson (20) off the final ball of the powerplay.
Next in, South African J.P. Duminy, who is leading the side in place of Zaheer Khan, along with Nair added 17 runs for the third wicket before Nair's stay at the crease was cut short by a leg-roller from veteran Rajat Bhatia.
England big-hitter Sam Billings lived up to his reputation and lightened up the crowd with some lusty blows in 15-ball 24, laced with one four and two massive sixes.
Sensing danger, Dhoni turned to his old war-horse Bhatia, who broke the 45-run stand for the fourth wicket by dismissing Billings, while Duminy (34) soon perished to a foolish run-out in the very next ball to leave Daredevils reeling at 138 for six. It was the fireworks from Delhi's most expensive buy Pawan Negi, who hit a quick-fire 12-ball 19 that took the home side to 162 for seven.
For Pune, Bhatia and Boland two wickets apiece while Dinda chipped in with one wicket.
Brief Scores: Delhi Daredevils 162 for 7 (JP Duminy 34, Karun Nair 32, Sam Billings 24, Bhatia 2 for 22, Boland 2 for 31) lost to Rising Pune Supergiants 166 for 3 (Ajinkya Rahane 63, Usman Khawaja 30, MS Dhoni 27, Tahir 2 for 26)