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The Kings XI Punjab failed to make it to the play-offs in the Indian Premier League 2012 following a crushing 6 wicket defeat to the Delhi Daredevils in Dharmasala on Saturday. After being put in to bat, Punjab were in all sorts of trouble at 20/4 at one stage before Azhar Mahmood (36) and Siddharth Chitnis (38) resurrected the innings to help post a respectable total on a dodgy surface. A cameo from young Gurkeerat Singh helped Punjab to an unlikely 141/8 in their 20 overs. That effort didn't materialise into a victory though as David Warner's blitz of 79 from 44 balls at the top of the order blew away the Punjab bowlers, and Delhi knocked Punjab out of the tourney with a 6 wicket win.
Match 69 of season 5 of the Indian Premier League between the table toppers Delhi Daredevils and hosts Kings XI Punjab took place at the scenic HPCA stadium in Dharmashala on Saturday afternoon with the hosts needing a vicory to stand a chance to make the play-offs. Delhiâ€™s captain Virender Sehwag wasnâ€™t fit enough to start this game either and their interim skipper Mahela Jayawardene walked out again for the toss. The flip of the coin went Delhi's way and Jayawardene chose to field first. Delhi brought back ace bowler Morne Morkel at the expense of the rested Ross Taylor while Punjab recalled Mumbai batsman Paul Valthaty in place of Nitin Saini.
After being put in to bat, the Kings XI got off to an indifferent start. They were gifted five wides off the first ball of the innings from Morne Morkel but failed to motor along subsequently. The extravagant swing and bounce offered by the pitch made sure Punjab were circumspect early on. Delhi though did capitalise on the conditions as Umesh Yadav struck with his first ball in the 2nd over of the match, getting the in-form Mandeep Singh caught behind for a golden duck.
After a couple of overs of that saw no rush scored off the bat, Adam Gilchrist decided he had enough and took on the pacey Morkel and struck a couple of fierce hits for four in the 3rd over to give some much needed momentum to the innings. That momentum was short lived though as Umesh Yadav struck again for the visitors, this time removing the dangerous Gilly for 9 with a short delivery that he top edged to mid on. The misery piled on for the hosts as the out of form Valthaty holed out to third man for a painstaking 2 off 10 balls looking to upper cut Morne Morkel. The experienced David Hussey too fell cheaply for 3, in identical fashion to his skipper, top edging a fast, short one from Umesh Yadav straight to mid on. Owing to those early blows Punjab were reeling after the powerplay, at a disastrous 20/4 with not much batting left in the dug out.
Azhar Mahmood and Siddharth Chitnis then got together looking to reconstruct the innings and put up a semblance of a fight. They did manage to achieve the objective with a good blend of caution and aggression that saw Punjab get back into the game. The pair got their eye in for a couple of overs before Chitnis took on the Delhi bowlers with some audacious and innovative shots to set the score in motion and give the side some momentum. The experienced veteran Azhar Mahmood was content to bide his time and build a game changing partnership.
The pair put on an unexpected 50 run stand in just 39 balls which included an impressive 37 off the last four overs faced to catapult the score to a respectable 73/4 after 13 overs. Going into the final phase of their innings, Punjab were still in it but needed to continue the rearguard action right through to post a competitive score.
Delhi halted the Punjab comeback charge a couple of overs later as Andre Russell picked up the key wicket of Siddharth Chitnis caught splendidly by Irfan Pathan running back from square leg for a fighting 38.
Young Gurukeerat Singh then walked out to middle with still plenty of work to do and pulled off one of his typical cameos to save the day for the hosts. The languid looking right hander took on the bowling straight away and played some astounding shots with an air of nonchalance to infuse some much needed momentum into the Punjab innings. He made 26 off just 11 balls with 4 fours and a six and in the process put on a valuable 45 runs in double-quick time to propel the teamâ€™s total.
Morne Morkel came in to bowl the 19th over after some carnage from the Punjab batsmen and picked up 3 wickets for just 4 runs to limit the damage. Although he picked up both the set batsmen, Aussie quick Ryan Harris smashed 15 off the final over from Umesh Yadav to end at a commendable 141/8 in 20 overs. With that fighting comeback, Punjab had given themselves a bit of a score to bowl at on this difficult pitch, but needed to put in a stellar effort to come out on top in this must win game.
The new opening pair for the Delhi Daredevils in David Warner and India's under captain Unmukt Chand got their team off to solid start in pursuit of 142. Warner took on Praveen Kumar early on and got the scoreboard moving smacking a six in the very first over from Praveen, who was having an off day. Chand meanwhile was relatively more circumspect, taking his time to start off. The young right hander struck a couple of well struck sixes though to keep the scoring rate above par. After 6 overs, Delhi, helped by some inconsistent bowling made their way to a healthy 45/0 with both openers looking good to get plenty more.
After the Powerplay it was time for the David Warner show. After playing himself in, Warner launched an all out attack on Punjab, leaving them little chance of a comeback in this do or die fixture. He climbed into Parvinder Awana in the 7th over clobbering him for 3 huge sixes over midwicket and a four over extra cover, deflating Punjab in the process. To make matters worse Warner was dropped on the deep square leg boundary in the same over by Mandeep Singh, which potentially cost Punjab the game.
Unmukt Chand was a mere spectator at the other end and was watching Warner smack it to all parts. Warner reached his 50 off just 25 balls, keeping Delhi well on course. Chand then fell for 18 off 24 miscuing a pull shot that was gobbled up by Adam Gilchrist. At 84/1, Warner continued his onslaught with Venugopal Rao giving him company. The blonde left hander stormed his way to 79 off just 44 balls before slamming one straight to point off his fellow countryman Ryan Harris. After 13 overs Delhi were comfortably placed at 113/2 needing just 29 more in the last 7 overs.
Punjab managed to dismiss the dangerous Irfan Pathan in the 15th over for just 5 and gave themselves an outside chance. Venugopal Rao though stayed calm and made a cool unbeaten 21 off 19 balls to steer his side home. Although Mahmood dismissed the experienced Mahela Jayawardene for 8, it was all too little too late for Punjab as Delhi romped home with 6 wickets and 10 balls to spare.
That win for the Daredevils consolidates their position at the top of the IPL standings at the end of the league phase and they will now face the 2nd placed team in the first qualifier for the final on the 22nd of May in Pune while Punjab will walk out with their heads held high after another so near, yet so far season that saw them fight hard with a relatively young and inexperienced side. This game could well be the last the cricket world sees of Adam Gilchrist, at least out in the middle, and the work he has done with this Punjab side is a true testament to one of the most honest and professional cricketers of this generation.
Delhi: M Jayawardene, U Chand, I pathan, N Ojha, D Warner, Y Venugopal Rao, A Russel, P Negi, M Morkel, U Yadav, V Aaron,
Punjab: A Gilchrist, P Valthaty, D Hussey, M Singh, A Mahmood, G Singh, P Awana, P Kumar, P Chawla, S Chitnis, R Harris
Kings XI Punjab 141/8 (20 overs, 7.05rpo)
S Chitnis 38(22) U Yadav 3/19
A Mahmood 36(38) M Morkel 4/20
Delhi Daredevils 145/4 (18.2 overs, 7.90 rpo)
D Warner 79(44) R Harris 2/19
YV Rao 21*(19) A Mahmood 2/23
Delhi win by 6 wickets with 10 balls to spare
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