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Pant’s ’emotional’ IPL comeback ends in defeat as Russell excel

Mohali- Rishabh Pant’s ’emotional’ return to elite cricket on Saturday, following a harrowing car accident, was overshadowed by Delhi Capitals’ loss to Punjab Kings in the Indian Premier League. Pursuing a target of 175, Punjab, led by England all-rounder Sam Curran’s 63 off 47 balls, achieved victory with four wickets and four balls to spare at IPL’s newest venue in Mullanpur, Punjab.

In the day’s second match, Pat Cummins, captaining for the first time in the IPL, saw defeat as Kolkata Knight Riders narrowly beat Sunrisers Hyderabad by four runs in an Eden Gardens thriller. In the initial match, Punjab skipper Shikhar Dhawan kickstarted the chase with a brisk 22 before being dismissed by fast bowler Ishant Sharma.

England’s Jonny Bairstow suffered an unfortunate run-out when a ball grazed Ishant’s finger and hit the stumps with Bairstow short of his crease. However, Curran’s half-century and a crucial 67-run partnership with Liam Livingstone helped seal victory for Punjab.

Despite the spotlight being on India’s Pant, who made a comeback as Delhi’s captain after 14 months, his contribution was brief as he fell to Harshal Patel’s slower delivery. Pant, visibly nervous, acknowledged the emotional return, stating, “This isn’t the first time I’ve been nervous, but I’m happy to be back.”

Pant had endured a car crash in December 2022, resulting in multiple injuries and surgery. He has since undergone an intensive rehabilitation program. In the second match, Andre Russell’s unbeaten 64 and two crucial wickets outshone Heinrich Klaasen’s impressive 63, leading Kolkata to victory against Hyderabad.- AFP

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