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In an entertaining match of contrasting fortunes, Delhi Daredevils downed the Deccan Chargers by 5 wickets to claim their fourth win of the IPL. Employing his bat like a sledgehammer, Kevin Pietersen, the king of crash, bang and wallop slammed an undefeated 64-ball 103 loaded with 6 sixes and 4 fours to take Delhi past the finish line with 5 deliveries to spare. In pursuit of 158, Delhi found themselves in early strife at 34-3 in 6 overs owing to some fabulous bowling from spearhead Dale Steyn (2-19) and teenager Veer Pratap Singh(1-31). From there on, it was KP's party all the way as winless Deccan suffered more last over heart-break and capitulated to their fourth consecutive loss. Earlier in the day, Deccan posted a decent 157-8 largely due to a stroke-filled 71 run association between the left handed duo of Shikhar Dhawan (44) and Parthiv Patel (45). For the rampaging hosts, Morne Morkel and Shahbaz Nadeem picked up 3 wickets apiece to derail Deccan's charge.
Match 23 of the Indian Premier League saw the basement dwelling Deccan Chargers visiting the historic Feroz Shah Kotla ground in Delhi to take on the Daredevils. Delhi have made a blistering start to their campaign this season and are already looking at one of the favourites to make it to the knock-out stages of the competition. Deccan in contrast came into this game looking for their first win, and despite the number of matches still to come desperately needed to get a win under their belts to give their campaign a kick start.
Kumar Sangakkara won the toss and had no second thoughts about batting first on a Kotla track that traditionally gets slower and lower as the game progresses. Changes were kept to a minimum by both sides with Deccan making just two - bringing in 19-year old Bengal medium pacer Veer Pratap Singh into their line-up while also recalling new signing Parthiv Patel. Delhi meanwhile resisted the temptation of using Proteas spinner Roelof van der Merwe on a track well suited for him, instead sticking to their batting heavy squad.
The wicket looked like a cracker right away with Sangakkara timing the ball beautifully in the opening over, but Irfan Pathan got away with some ordinary deliveries with shots finding the fielder. Kevin Pietersen was a surprise choice to share the new ball, and a half tracker from KP allowed Shikhar Dhawan to pick up an easy boundary. The gamble to open with the part-timer almost paid off though with Dhawan going down the track to the spinner on the very next ball, with an inside edge evading both the keeper and the stumps. Sangakkara (1) had no such luck in the next over with a top edge off Morne Morkel flirting with some airhostesses before being snaffled brilliantly by Yogesh Nagar. Parthiv Patel, who came into this game in place of Kenyan international Tanmay Mishra, was bumped up to no.3.
The early loss of Sanga did not deter the Deccan charge though with Parthiv Patel announcing his intentions right away by hitting Pathan for three consecutive boundaries. Dhawan at the other end was looking in exceptional form and mixed aggression with some exceptional cricketing shots to help the side to 50/1 in the powerplay.
The Delhi bowlers struggled against the twin left-handed assault team and the runs continued to flow rapidly even after the field spread. At the end of 9 overs, Deccan were cruising at 81/1 and looking good for a score in excess of 170.
Just as Deccan were threatening to pull away, Shikhar Dhawan fell against the run of play with Shahbaz Nadeem picking up a wicket with his first delivery, trapping the left-hander leg before for 44, while attempting the reverse sweep. Parthiv Patel kept the runs flowing from the other end, but suffered a strange rush of blood in the middle of his innings where he suddenly started to attempt clearing the field on every ball he faced. Patel was caught off a no-ball on the third man boundary and then Pietersen misjudged a catch to give the little left-hander a third life. However, Patel seemed determined not to take advantage, and was finally caught in the deep for 45 off Nadeem.
Nadeem continued to be the man for Delhi, picking up his third wicket in as many as overs with JP Duminy falling for 4 caught at short midwicket by Sehwag. After 14 overs, Deccan were threatening to ruin all the hard work done earlier as they slid to 113/4.
The slide continued in the overs to come with Umesh Yadav getting rid of Daniel Christian for 19, caught at mid-wicket. Morne Morkel then came back for his second spell and removed Abhisek Jhunjhunwala (4) and Dale Steyn (2) to leave Deccan in complete disarray at 135/7. Sehwag made a poor decision to bring back the expensive Ajit Agarkar for one more over when Yadav still had one up his sleeve, and that allowed Deccan to pilfer an additional 16 runs against the run of play. Morkel though finished the innings well, conceding just 6 runs in the final over with Bharat Chipli (25*) deprived of the strike.
The debutant, Veer Pratap Singh launched Deccan's defence in an ideal fashion, dismissing Naman Ojha(1) with his 5th delivery. The Delhi gloveman's mistimed expansive off-drive was grasped by the ever bankable JP Duminy. The teenager, unaffected by stage fright maintained a tight line and length. Kevin Pietersen, the one drop batsman was lucky to receive a massive reprieve when he was dropped by Chipli off the bowling of Steyn in the 4th over. However, captain Sehwag (7) fell in the same over, nicking one to Christian, stationed at wide slip. Wickets continued to tumble as Jayawardene (6) too departed without troubling the scorers much. The Daredevils were struggling at 34-3 at the conclusion of an eventful powerplay that belonged to the Chargers.
Kevin Pietersen, who opened his account via a stylish flick past mid-wicket, was not willing to play the waiting game. He imposed himself on Amit Mishra, walloping 2 biggies off the leggie's very first over. KP's sheer power was on display as 'culprit Chipli' was left to rue the costly miss. Ross Taylor also appeared to be in fine nick. But Deccan, accused of fielding like school boys in their previous match, pulled off a stunner to run-out the Kiwi batsman for 13. A fiercely determined Pietersen meanwhile notched up his maiden fifty of IPL 2012 in the 13th over. After destroying Mishra, Pietersen went one better against Duminy, biffing 3 sixes on the trot.
Just when Delhi appeared to be cruising, the returning Dale Steyn forced Irfan Pathan back to the dug out for just 5. 37 runs from 4 overs was the equation and Pietersen stood as the only roadblock between Deccan and an unexpected triumph.
Yogesh Nagar meanwhile decided to chance his arm and damaged Pratap Singh's figures with a quickfire 23 from 15 balls. At the other end, Pietersen's love affair with sixes bloomed. Deccan's fielding let them down (again) and Pietersen was dropped (again). Much to the frenzy of the boisterous Delhi fans, KP finished off the match with a towering six in the final over and with it raced to a well deserved ton.
This breathtaking win has propelled Delhi to the top of the table once again. The intimidating Daredevils will next host the Pune Warriors on Saturday. Meanwhile, the hapless Chargers will have to go back to the drawing board and ponder over their combination. The Chargers will desperately seek that elusive first victory when they lock horns with Gautam Gambhir's Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens on Sunday.
Delhi Daredevils: N Ojha (wk), V Sehwag (c), K Pietersen, DPMD Jayawardene, R Taylor, I Pathan, Y Nagar, A Agarkar, M Morkel, U Yadav, S Nadeem
Deccan Chargers: B Chipli, S Dhawan, P Patel, D Christian, K Sangakkara (c & wk), JP Duminy, A Jhunjhunwala, ASharma, A Mishra, D Steyn, V Pratap Singh
Deccan Chargers 157/8 (20 overs, 7.85rpo)
P Patel 45 (27) M Morkel 3-22
S Dhawan 44 (29) S Nadeem 3-16
Delhi Daredevils 162-5 (19.1 overs, 8.45 rpo)
K Pietersen 103*(64) D Steyn 2-19
Y Nagar 23*(15) V Pratap Singh 1-31
DD won by 5 wickets with 5 balls to spare
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