Opener’s unbeaten 95 powers Daredevils to their first win in seven matches
There were two men in this edition of Indian Premier League whose willows had been agonisingly dormant.
Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag enthralled the capacity crowd at Feroz Shah Kotla on Sunday with their exploits before Delhi Daredevils finally woke up from a self-induced slumber to cruise to a nine-wicket victory over Mumbai Indians.
Choosing to bat, Mumbai Indians could have felt confident of defending 161/4 boosted by the half centuries of Tendulkar (54) and Rohit Sharma (73). But Sehwag (95 n.o., 57 b, 13×4, 2×6) overshadowed the two and announced his return to form with a characteristically destructive innings. With Mahela Jayawardene (59, 43 b, 8×4, 1×6) supporting him well, Delhi made the chase a brutally one-sided affair.
Daredevils reached the total with 18 balls to spare to rustle up their first win of the season after six straight losses. In the process, Sehwag and Jayawardene stitched a 151-run partnership for the opening wicket besides winning back the adulation of the home crowd that had cheered Mumbai Indians earlier in the day.
One may call it the Vivian Richards effect! The great West Indian cricketer was roped in as ambassador and advisor by Dardevils before this match and sported the team jersey in the huddle before the match.
It definitely reflected in the batting at least. Sehwag freely swung the bat and Jayawardene, who had looked subdued during his past lone battles, promoted himself ahead of David Warner, and flourished. Together, they made a mockery of Mumbai’s bowling, raining fours and sixes.
Sehwag was in imperious touch. He flicked with ease, drove on either side of the wicket and comfortably milked the seamers in his favourite area- square of wicket. Mahela, quietly assiduous, exhibited sweet timing– finding the gaps to breach the boundary with regularity. A packed Kotla, which had witnessed chants of Sachin’s name in the first half, later echoed to the sweet refrains of “Viru, Viru”.
Jayawardene departed when Daredevils was near the finishing line. But Sehwag helped Delhi cross the line with another boundary, just five shot of what could have been a well-deserved century.
Few would have given Daredevils a chance after they had lost their way during the Mumbai innings with a poor show in the outfield, marked by dropped catches and ordinary bowling.
After reducing Mumbai to 57/2 in 10 overs, Delhi might have fancied a lesser total. But powerful hitting by Rohit and Tendulkar boosted them to a respectable total. Tendulkar treated the crowd to some sparks of yore as he reached his highest total this season. His feet moved well and the pulled six off Ajit Agarkar was vintage stuff.
Rohit, with his effortless and calculated attack stepped on the gas and was a pure delight to watch. The two raced to put up 96 runs off 67 balls for the third wicket.
Tendulkar was given a life at 37 when Shahbaz Nadeem let go of a caught and bowl chance.
While Tendulkar chose to play safe, Rohit entertained the crowd with some fine strokes. Rohit tipped the maestro to reach his half century with a boundary off a Irfan Pathan full toss. A flicked six six off Umesh Yadav was the pick of his shots. Their efforts, however, did not prove enough as Daredevils cantered home in style.
Miller, Mandeep clinch it for Kings XI
A new captain was not enough to win the match for Pune Warriors India; and a struggling skipper’s continued failure for Kings XI Punjab almost hurt his team. Mandeep Singh and David Miller, however, overcame the host’s initial wobble at the PCA Stadium to lead it to an exciting seven-wicket victory in the Pepsi IPL.
Before this match, no KXIP batsman had scored a half-century in the tournament. Two of them arrived on Sunday night.
Mandeep batted through the entire innings and was initially assisted by Manan Vohra, whose 22 off 13 deliveries gained greater importance as the match wore on.
Miller came in to bat in the seventh over and found the boundary line with ominous regularity. Needing 16 off the last over bowled by Luke Wright, the duo could only manage singles off the first two deliveries before Miller hit two sixes off the next three to seal an unlikely win.
Earlier, a poor fielding display by KXIP had allowed PWI to edge ahead.
Gilchrist chose to field, and seven balls later arrived the most momentous error of the contest.
Aaron Finch, batting on one, was the beneficiary of a clanger by Gilchrist, leaving the bowler Azhar Mahmood, and pretty much everyone else, bemused. The ball took a thick edge off the opener’s bat but couldn’t find a place in the ’keeper’s gloves.
Finch immediately punished the Pakistani all-rounder by hitting him for a four and six off consecutive deliveries in the same over.
When the Aussie was finally dismissed for 64 in the 16th, his team was in a dominant position at 124 for two. PWI’s skipper for this match, Finch hit five of his eight fours through pull shots.
Finch’s opening partner Robin Uthappa was more sedate but made most of his runs through quick running between the wickets, aided by the opposition’s laxity in the outfield.
Yuvraj Singh, joining Finch after Uthappa’s departure in the 11th over, began tentatively but later scored 34, using the conditions to good effect.
A couple of sixes by the left-hander off Awana in the 17th over began a late charge by PWI which could have proved to be the crucial difference at the end.
Yuvraj ceded the stage to Wright in the following over and, despite making only his first appearance of this season, the Englishman clobbered a four off each of his first six deliveries to take his team to 185