Shikhar Dhawan returned to form in the hour of need as Hyderabad ended Delhi's play-off hopes with a thumping nine-wicket win on Thursday.
Dhawan (92 off 50 balls) and Kane Williamson (83 off 53 balls) added an unbeaten 176 for the second wicket as table-toppers Hyderabad cruised to the required 188 in 18.5 overs to register their ninth win in 11 games and confirm a berth in the play-offs, becoming the first team to do so this season. With their 8th defeat in 11 games, Delhi finally found themselves out of the play-off reckoning.
Harshal Patel got rid of Alex Hales (14) early but after that Dhawan and Williamson played with great conviction to take their side to 191/1 with seven balls to go. The Delhi bowlers totally fell by the wayside and failed to make any impression in what was a do-or-die contest for them.
Earlier in the day, Pant showed both his sublime and ridiculous sides in a batting masterclass. Sublime, because he was Delhi's lone soldier on a very tricky pitch at the Ferozshah Kotla Stadium. Ridiculous, because he was responsible for two run-outs in the Delhi innings.
However eventually, Pant's sublime side prevailed over his ridiculous side and DD were able to reach a very competitive total of 187/5.
After deciding to bat, Delhi got off to a bad start with Prithvi Shaw and the returning Jason Roy failing to contribute much. Both departed off successive deliveries in the fourth over bowled by Bangladeshi allrounder Shakib Al Hasan. Shreyas Iyer and Pant looked to build a partnership but a change of mind on the latter's part led to the Delhi captain's departure by means of a run-out.
In what turned out a great move, Delhi sent Harshal up the order to join Pant. It was surprising to see that on a wicket where Shaw, Roy and Iyer seemed to struggle, there was nothing bothering Harshal who looked in great control during his innings of 24 that also saw him hit two sixes. It was a shame that Pant refused to respond to a double call of his and brought about Delhi's second run-out and an end to a 55-run stand.
At the stage, it appeared there was no hope for Delhi as regards their chances of a good total. Pant, seemingly ashamed of his twin follies, however had other ideas in his mind and made up big time: he cut loose thereafter punishing the Hyderabad bowlers with great disdain.
He dominated the 63-run with Glenn Maxwell with 53 and during the course of his innings became the first player this season to reach the 500-run mark. It was his first-ever IPL century. He also became the youngest to score 1,000 runs in the history of the league at the age of 20 years and 218 days, going past Sanju Samson (21 years and 183 days).
The Hyderabad bowlers did their damnedest but there was no stopping Pant and Bhuvneshwar Kumar especially came in for a severe hiding in the last over, conceding three sixes and two fours. Pant was unbeaten on 128 off 63 balls with the help of 15 fours and 7 sixes at the end of DD's innings.
It was indeed a batting clinic from the 20-year-old as Delhi scored a whopping 135 runs in the last 10 overs. However, as it turned out later the Dhawan-Williamson partnership comfortably upstaged his effort and broke Delhi fans' hearts not a little.