India's Shikhar Dhawan has played 61 T20 internationals since his debut in 2011
Dubai (AFP) - Shikhar Dhawan hit his first Indian Premier League century on Saturday as Delhi Capitals beat Chennai Super Kings to go back top of the table.
South African veteran AB de Villiers produced another blistering batting display meanwhile to take Royal Challengers Bangalore to victory over Rajasthan Royals and keep them in the playoff race.
India opener Dhawan batted through the Delhi innings as they chased Chennai’s 179-4 in which Faf du Plessis made 58 and Ambati Rayudu an unbeaten 45.
Dhawan made 101 off 57 balls with 14 fours and one six but his partners Shreyas Iyer (23) and Marcus Stoinis (24) hit the boundaries that kept Delhi in the hunt. The surprise IPL contenders needed 15 off the last over and it was spin bowler Axar Patel who blasted three sixes to secure the win with a ball to spare.
“It feels very special,” said the 34-year-old.
“At the start of the season also I was hitting the ball well but I wasn’t converting those 20s into 50s. Once you do that, you take that confidence into the next game.”
Delhi now lead reigning champions Mumbai Indians by two points while M.S. Dhoni’s three-time winners Chennai have only three wins from nine games and are slumbering in sixth place in the eight team league. Mumbai play King’s XI Punjab on Sunday.
In the opening game of the day, De Villiers hit an unbeaten 55 off 22 balls taking Bangalore from the verge of defeat – needing 35 off 12 balls – to a stunning seven wicket victory that kept Virat Kohli’s side in fourth place and the final playoff spot.
The 36-year-old’s latest power hitting left both sides in awe. He hit three straight sixes off the penultimate over by Jaydev Unadkat and overtook the target 177-6 with another six off Jofra Archer with two balls to spare. Bangalore made 179 for three with Kohli also making 43.
“I said to a few of the Rajasthan boys, I know you lost but sometimes it doesn’t matter which side you’re on, you can only go wow,” said de Villiers’ South African teammate Chris Morris.
India coach Ravi Shastri said this week that de Villiers should come out of his international retirement. After a 55 off 24 balls in a win over Mumbai and a devastating 73 off 33 balls against Kolkata, de Villiers now has the IPL’s best strike rate and only Sanju Samson is up with his 19 sixes.
De Villiers said he was always “very nervous” going into such a run chase. “I try to hide it. I get very stressed. I’m proud of my performances. Want to perform for my team, have an impact to win games.”
Bangalore coach Simon Katich called de Villiers a “freak” but knows he will need more sixes from the South African if the team are to win their first IPL title.