It was bowlers’ night out but Manoj Tiwary’s day at the Ferozeshah Kotla as the Delhi Daredevils were undone by their own hand on Thursday. Languishing at the bottom of the table before the match began, the Devils chose to field on the latest local novelty – a greenish strip – and found their pacers coming to the party early against the Kolkata Knight Riders. It all seamed too good to be true as Irfan Pathan magically rediscovered his inswing and Umesh Yadav harried the batsmen with pace and bounce.
But their over-reliance on an underperforming top order and a continuing muddle with batting combinations ensured that Delhi couldn’t chase down even 149, falling short by 17 runs as the match meandered into an unlikely battle of attrition instead of the frenzy of strokeplay it was supposed to be. The chase clearly centered around Sehwag and Warner and once that didn’t pay off, there were no contingency plans in place. Delhi’s dismal season veers from the bad to the woeful while the Knights have now shot up to second on the points table.
The result ensured sweet revenge for Delhi boy Gautam Gambhir’s KKR as the goodly crowd found its affections split down the middle. Each KKR wicket was cheered, Gambhir’s each move was greeted with roars and Delhi must have felt they were playing an away game. Even at the end, as one Delhi batsman after another got run out with panic setting in and Gambhir jumping in excitement, the confused cheering continued.
Ironically for Delhi, KKR’s spinners Iqbal Abdullah and Yusuf Pathan played a key hand in choking the chase. Only a struggling and injured James Hopes (25 off 29 balls; 12×4, 1×6) offered brief resistance, and Yogesh Nagar and Venugopal Rao flailed wildly as the end neared, but once Brett Lee produced an exceptional run out, Venu was back in the hut and it was all over.
Sehwag’s decision to bat with poise too didn’t quite pay off, Jaydev Unadkat getting the prize wicket with a bouncer after Balaji had cramped Warner for room and dislodged Delhi’s scary opening combine. Lee kept Warner quiet at the other end as Delhi began the chase but once Balaji started giving Sehwag room – the batsmen peppering the region between cover and point with savage drives and deft cuts – it seemed an early end was in the offing. It all unravelled fast with Sehwag’s wicket.
The standout act of the day was easily KKR’s Manoj Tiwary (62 not out; 47b, 2×4, 3×6), who proved his credentials on a fastish T20 track.