In what would have been an easy chase, considering the likes of Sehwag and Warner in their ranks, Delhi batsmen had to sweat hard before registering a five-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab, with an over to spare, in an Indian Premier League match on Tuesday. This win led to their qualification for the play-offs.
Needing 11 runs from the last 12 balls for victory at the Feroze Shah Kotla, Mahela Jayawardene finished off the proceedings in the 19th over by scoring three consecutive fours and completing a match-winning 49-ball 56 in the process.
The famed opening pair of Sehwag and Warner got off to an explosive start amassing 21 runs at the end of two overs. The partnership broke in the first ball of the third over when Praveen Kumar sent back Warner, who managed a top-edge off a short length wide delivery and handed Mahmood an easy catch at gully. Hussey brought in Awana and the move paid off as he bowled Sehwag (8) in his very first ball. He went on to add two more to his tally when he removed Y Venugopal Rao and Ross Taylor in his second over. It was then the Punjab outfit started to dream of another thrilling win and keep themselves in the hunt for the play-offs.
But Jayawardene teamed up with Naman Ojha and built a crucial 58-run 5th wicket partnership. After a productive first half, Hussey ran out of resources in the second part and Ojha and Jayawardene took advantage of this to turn the tide in their favour. With Mahela Jayawardene on the crease even when wickets fell at the other end, a victory for Delhi was never out of sight. By the time they lost Ojha, Delhi were 42 runs short of victory with Jayawardene and Irfan Pathan on the field.
After the completion of Punjab’s innings, it was job half done for the Delhi outfit. The hosts were fortunate to get everything right from the beginning, barring the toss. Punjab chose to bat on a decent batting track but superb bowling from Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron made sure Punjab batsmen never settled on the crease.
Marsh slammed three boundaries in Venugopal Rao’s first over to give them a good start. However, Aaron put a stop to the Aussie’s innings in the fourth over. He gave a simple catch to Naman Ojha after edging behind a good length ball from Aaron, who bowled it round the wicket. He went on to remove Mandeep Singh, who looked dangerous on 12-ball 21, thanks to a brilliant effort from Sehwag on the field. From there on, Delhi’s bowlers never allowed them to settle, taking wickets at regular intervals. Umesh (4-0-21-3) and Aaron (4-0-19-2) stood out from the pack. Umesh’s exploits earned him the Man of the Match award. However, Punjab captain David Hussey stood tall amid the ruins and topped their run scorers chart with a 35-ball 40. He ensured Punjab a total of 136 with the loss of 8 wickets in their allotted 20 overs.