On a low, slow pitch at the Ferozshah Kotla, Kings XI Punjab bowled with great heart and were ably supported by some insipid batting and poor running from Delhi Daredevils, who won the toss and elected to bat. The home team were bowled out for a paltry 111, Irfan Pathan and Piyush Chawla once again starring with the ball for Punjab. When it was their turn to bat, the visitors opened with Pathan partnering Mahela Jayawardene, a clear indication that they wanted to attack the Delhi bowlers upfront.
The ploy did not come off. But, Jayawardene kept the runs flowing from the other end. Then, despite some tight bowling from Delhi, the experience of Yuvraj Singh and Kumar Sangakkara saw Punjab causing another upset, after the defeat they handed out to Mumbai Indians.
Without a doubt, it was their batting effort which hurt Delhi big time. After Pathan got Virender Sehwag in the second over of the match, they recovered well via some aggressive batting by their skipper Gautam Gambhir.
With five fours, he raced to 26 in 11 balls before a moment of madness cost him his wicket. A confusion between him and David Warner saw him being stranded out of his crease and getting run out for the third time in this IPL, clearly something he needs to work on. For Punjab, this was just the breakthrough they needed.
Warner (7) joined Gambhir in the pavilion soon, being dismissed in a similar fashion to his skipper, Paul Collingwood was his partner on this occasion. On a pitch where, as it is, batting was extremely difficult, Delhi could not have afforded to give away wickets so cheaply; the fact that they did, compounded their woes manifold.
Piyush Chawla joined in the act for Punjab, producing another mesmerising spell. On a wicket that seemed tailor-made for his style of bowling, the leg spinner trapped Collingwood with a perfectly directed googly and did the same to Daniel Vettori a little later.
At 63 for 5, the innings was in tatters. But, if Delhi had a reason to be positive, it was that they too had two potent spinners in Vettori and Amit Mishra. Before that, however, they needed to put up a challenging total. In Mithun Manhas and Dinesh Karthik, they had two men who were capable of staging a fightback. But, Punjab were determined not to let that happen.
Pathan returned to end Karthik’s resistance for 17 while Manhas gave his hand away, falling to Juan Theron on 26. The mop-up job did not take long.
Delhi needed to strike early with the ball to have sniff. That was not to be. And, though the bowling was competitive, Jayawardene ensured that he picked up a few boundaries here and there, including a mighty six, thereby not allowing the pressure to build. When he was eventually dismissed for 38, Punjab had reached 65 in the 11th over. A couple of quick wickets would have still put the pressure back on batting side.
But Sangakkara and Yuvraj (21*) joined hands and featured in a sensible partnership. By the time, Sangakkara was dismissed for 33, Punjab were on the doorsteps of victory. They might not make it to the semis, but Punjab are clearly beginning to show their capabilities. Better late than never.
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