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A composed unbeaten half-century from Mahela Jayawardene(56*) led the Delhi Daredevils to a 5 wicket victory over the Kings XI Punjab in the only IPL game taking place this Tuesday. Chasing an underwhelming 137, the famed Delhi top order was rocked early by the ever-improving Parvinder Awana (3-22). The Sri Lankan skipper though joining forces with the belligerent Naman Ojha (34) to bail Delhi out of trouble via an impact 58 run association that proved to be the difference between the two sides. Eventually Mahela and Irfan Pathan (19*) closed out the game with an over in hand. Earlier in the day, the Kings XI Punjab were restricted to 136-8 as the Delhi pace battery ruled the roost. Umesh Yadav grabbed 3 wickets while Varun Aaron picked up 2. David Hussey was the lone ranger in Punjab's shoddy batting effort, labouring his way to 40*. This loss has landed a massive blow to Punjab's chances of making the play-offs.
The upbeat Kings XI Punjab facing a herculian task of winning their remaining 3 games to stay in the hunt for the Play-offs were up against the table topping Delhi Daredevils at the Feroz Shah Kotla in front of a capacity crowd. The Daredevils, who were given a reality check by the Super Kings, were keen to return to their winning ways to put some distance between themselves and the chasing pack.
Both teams made a couple of edits to their team line-ups. Delhi brought back Ross Taylor and Pawan Negi in the place of Roelof van der Merwe and Yogesh Nagar. Meanwhile, the news in the Punjab camp was that Ryan Harris and Siddarth Chitnis made way for David Miller and Harmeet Singh. David Hussey called correctly at the toss and without any hesitation opted to bat first on what seemed to be a fine batting track.
In a move to exploit the field restrictions thoroughly, the Kings XI think-tank decided to bump Shaun Marsh up to the opening slot to partner Mandeep Singh. The southpaw vindicated the tactic early on with 3 lovely fours off part-timer, Venugopal Rao, who astonishingly bowled the 2nd over. Mandy also filetted the gaps with confidence and helped himself to a few boundaries. However, Varun Aaron struck in his first over to cut short Marsh's innings for 13.
The expensive Morne Morkel was rendered ineffective in his first spell. The in-form Mandeep Singh rocking back to pull Morne Morkel was a thing of beauty. Ironically, Madeep (21) perished to the pull the very next over with Viru taking a low tumbling catch at short mid-wicket to hand Aaron his second wicket of the evening. There was no dearth of excitement in the powerplay as it contained exquisite shots, wickets and even a direct hit from David Warner. Punjab had accumulated 47 runs for the loss of their openers in 6 overs.
Umesh Yadav, emulating his compatriot Aaron also struck in his first over to plot the demise of Nitin Saini (15). The Punjab gloveman was undone by Yadav's outswinger was caught safely by Sehwag again, this time at wide slip. Delhi's pace battery set the Feroz Shah Kotla on fire and the Nawab of Najafgarh, celebrating his 50th game as Delhi captain was on cloud nine. Punjab's misery continued as Pawan Negi's bulls-eye direct hit caught David Miller(4) well short of his crease. Moments later, Irfan Pathan completed a perfectly judged catch inches from the fence to force Azhar Mahmood (9) back to the hutch.
David Hussey entrusted with the responsibility of resurrecting the innings joined hands with the promising Gurkeerat Singh. Gurkeerat was quick to get off the blocks with successive boundaries of Negi. However, the left arm spinner had the last laugh, bamboozling Gurkeerat with flight and turn. Naman Ojha, behind the sticks dislodged the bails in a flash to leave KXIP tottering at 89-6 in 13 overs.
Amidst all the ruins, Hussey tried his best to pick up the tempo. But boundaries were like a mirage in a desert.
Finally the Australian broke the shackles, clearing his front leg to deposit Morkel into the stands. Morkel's 3rd over fetched the Kings XI 11 runs. The following over despite the loss of the struggling Piyush Chawla (10) also turned out to be productive. Then DD' s electrifying fielding plunged into action again with Varun Aaron effecting a direct hit to run-out to the lethargic Praveen Kumar (8). The much anticipated power hitting failed to materialize as Kings XI meandered to a modest 136-8 in 20 overs.
The Daredevils were off to a rapid start cracking 21 off the first two overs. After executing a couple of signature extra cover swats though, David Warner(14) fell to a nothing shot with Praveen Kumar inflicting the crucial break-through. Four deliveries later, Hussey dropped a sitter to grant his counterpart a life. Much to Hussey's relief it did not cost the visitors dearly as Parvinder Awana disturbed Viru's timber for 8. Unfortunately for Delhi, things went from bad to worse. Awana, bustling in with aggression removed Venugopal Rao (7) and Ross Taylor(0) in quick succession to reduce Delhi to 37-4 in 6 overs.
Cashing in, Punjab snuck in a few dot balls to push the asking rate to over 8 runs per over.
The pair of Mahela Jayawardene and Naman Ojha targeted Piyush Chawla and rang in a few significant blows. Ohja's back to back sixes off the leggie in the 11th over earned tumultuous cheers from the spectators.The ice-cool Mahela, who looked to be in his zone proved to be a good foil for the dashing Ojha. The Lankan skipper was all about poetry in motion. The Kings XI began to wilt under pressure and Chawla spilling Ojha in the 13th over did Punjab's cause no good. The salient feature of the association was positive cricket and alertness in between wickets.
The 58 run stand came to a halt when Ohja (34) went for one too many and provided the leggie an opportunity to make amends for the dropped chance. The match was tantalizingly poised on a knife's edge with the home team at 103-5 in 15 overs.
Punjab's top wicket taker of this season, Piyush Chawla conjured up a perfect maiden over to tilt the scales in Punjab's favor. However, Irfan Pathan (19*) manufactured three boundaries off Awana to take the game by the scruff of its neck. The equation was reduced to a very gettable 11 from 11 balls. Mahela Jayawardene then fittingly finished the game with a volley of vintage fours to confirm Delhi's participation in the play-offs.
With Mahela Jayawardene finally finding some form, Delhi's batting resembles an unstoppable juggernaut. The Daredevils will next gear up for the Royal Challenge on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Kings XI Punjab, despite requiring to win their remaining 2 games will have to depend upon net-run rate and favours from other teams to sneak into the knock-out rounds through the back door. The Kings XI will head to Dharamshala to take on the Super Kings on the same day in a 4pm kick-off.
DD: D Warner, V Sehwag(c), N Ojha(wk), M Jayawardene, R Taylor, V Rao, P Negi, I Pathan, U Yadav, V Aaron, M Morkel
KXIP: M Singh, N Saini(wk), S Marsh, D Hussey(c), D Miller, G Singh, A Mahmood, H Singh, P Chawla, P Kumar, P Awana
KXIP 136-8 (20 overs, 6.80 rpo)
D Hussey 40*(35) U Yadav 3-21
M Singh 21(12) V Aaron 2-19
DD 140-5 (19 overs, 7.36 rpo)
M Jayawardene 56*(49) P Awana 3-22
N Ohja 34(29) P Kumar 1-28
Delhi won by 5 wickets with an over to spare.
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