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Delhi Daredevils squeeze narrow 3 wicket win against Perth to keep CLT20 semi-final hopes alive

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Needing a win to keep their semi-final hopes alive, the Perth Scorchers struggled in the early contest between bat and ball, making a paltry 121-5 in 20 overs having been put into bat on a challenging wicket. Shaun Marsh and Simon Katich contributed patchy 30s to lead the Scorchers' cause, while Morne Morkel and Ajit Agarkar shared the 5 wickets to fall between them, with exemplary economy rates to boot. Delhi struggled in their chase, losing wickets at regular intervals to keep the game very much alive as a contest. Virender Sehwag played a cautious hand, contributing 52 to the Delhi cause, but fell at a crucial stage with Delhi still 26 shy of victory. Ajit Agarkar though proved to be the hero with the bat too, striking an unbeaten 11 from 7 balls to take Delhi over the line in the final over with 3 wickets to spare.

Mahela Jayawardene had no hesitation in putting the Scorchers in on another overcast day in Newlands, and the Delhi pace attack made the most of the conditions with Morne Morkel removing Herschelle Gibbs for 6 in just the second over.

The Delhi pacers kept the runs in check, conceding just 34 in the powerplay, with the usually prolific Shaun Marsh once again struggling with his timing, and getting comfortably outscored by veteran Simon Katich. Ajit Agarkar produced a performance which reminded everyone why he was such an asset for India in his heyday, as he removed both set batsmen in their 30s.

The Scorchers' batting effort never really hit top gear as they meandered to triple digits midway through the 17th over. There were no fireworks either at the end with Morkel taking some late wickets to stem the flow of runs.

Delhi's batsmen didn't really fair much better, struggling to 60-4 in 10 overs with no one other than Virender Sehwag making his way to double figures. Mahela Jayawardene (4) and Unmukt Chand (3) fell to Joe Mennie, while Kevin Pietersen (9) and Ross Taylor (5) fell to the guile of Michael Beer to set up an exciting finish.

Sehwag finally found an able partner in Irfan Pathan, and the duo added 34 for the 5th wicket before both fell in quick succession, Pathan for 14 and Sehwag for 52. Viru was fortunate to be grassed by Rimmington when on 46, and the ball was palmed over the rope for 6. However, Rimmington came back in the following over to remove both set batsmen.

Delhi's batsmen seemed inclined to throw away a certain win with Ojha falling caught behind for 6, two balls after having nicked the ball through to the keeper only to be given not out. There was plenty of controversy about the dismissal with the bowler, Counter-Nile, having gone too wide with his backfoot to cut the crease, but it went unspotted by the on-field Umpire.

The pressure was on Pawan Negi and Ajit Agarkar to see Delhi home, and the duo delivered, striking timely boundaries and running well between the wickets to seal a narrow 3 wicket win with 3 balls to spare.

The result puts the Perth Scorchers out of the competition, leaving their last game against the Auckland Aces of only academic performance for the Aussie side. The Aces meanwhile are still in the hunt, and can give their qualification hopes a big boost with a win on Tuesday. The unbeaten Daredevils are the favourites to go through to the semi-finals, and may not even need to win their last game against the Titans also on Tuesday depending on how the rest of the results go in the run up to that game.

Mini Scorecard:

Perth Scorchers 121-5 (20 overs, 6.05rpo)
S Marsh 39 (41) M Morkel 3-19
S Katich 34 (33) A Agarkar 2-14

Delhi Daredevils 123-7 (19.3 overs, 6.3rpo)
V Sehwag 52 (44) M Beer 2-18
I Pathan 14 (18) J Meenie 2-21

Delhi win by 3 wickets with 3 balls to spare