Sturdy Gambhir set Delhi home in a nervous chase

By Rakesh

Take a bow to Kings Xl Punjab bowlers who made a modest target of 143  look bigger than it actually was. But their efforts went into dark with Daredevils skipper Gautam Gambhir playing a responsible innings that gave his team for a 5 wicket victory. His old fashioned innings full of sensible stroke-play helped his team chase a straight forward target of 143 on a flat wicket where his compatriots struggled.

With a little contribution from the top order, Gambhir fought hard to keep the match on their side. He didn’t lift the ball into air till he struck a six in 19th over. He ran hard between the wickets and played shots with soft hands for most of the time. He ensured that the run rate never climb to a critical situation. His timely cut stood out to be the best of his innings,that well deserved the man of the match award.

Delhi got one of their worst starts as they lost Sehwag for 8 runs and Dilshan for a duck in the first over. Credit goes to Sreesanth as he swung the ball hard and he got Sehwag at the first slip and then got Dilshan at short mid-wicket for a duck.

Pressure on Gambhir and AB de Villiers raised as they lost their top batsman in the very first over. But with Punjab bowlers maintaining tight line and length, the going got rather tough for the duo. The boundaries dried up completely and the only way they could score was by running hard between the wickets. But de Villiers had to soon walk back to the pavilion after a mix-up with Gambhir led to his run-out.

As de Villiers was on his way to the pavilion,came in Karthik, but the game plan remained the same,run hard between the wickets. Karthik tried to break the shackles by hitting it over the ropes in the bowling of Yusuf Abdulla, but was caught by Irfan Pathan at longoff. Mithun Manhas joined the skipper and this duo took the delhi team to the end.

A two-run 17th over by Yuvraj Singh gave Punjab an outside chance, with 26 required off the last three, but when Irfan Pathan dropped Mithun Manhas in the 19th over, it was all over for Punjab. That Gambhir batted through the innings meant he ran up and down the pitch 71 times. A cramping Gambhir towards the end wasn’t what Delhi would have envisaged after a commendable fielding effort.

Earlier, sent in to bat, Punjab received an early setback when Mithun Manhas affected a brilliant direct-hit to send Manvinder Bisla packing in the second over. Kumar Sangakkara (17) and Ravi Bopara’s (56) attempt to steady the innings lasted only for 34 runs.

Farveez Maharoof had a double strike in the sixth over, removing Sangakkara and Yuvraj Singh (4). First the Punjab skipper holed out at short fine-leg to a good low catch by Pradeep Sangwan and then Gambhir took a well-judged running catch at mid-on after Yuvraj bottom edged a full delivery. That it was the last delivery of the Powerplay could have had something to do with Yuvraj’s shot selection. Mahela Jayawardene, though, edged the first delivery after the Powerplay, a straight angling delivery from Pradeep Sangwan.

Bopara got the support of Irfan Pathan and their partnership of 60 runs in 43 balls helped in rebuilding the innings. They enjoyed some edges to the third man region, but another inspired move from Gambhir started the second collapse for Punjab. Tillakaratne Dilshan was given the ball in the 14th over, and Irfan – responsible until then – jumped out of the crease and missed a straight delivery.

Dirk Nannes was simply terrific with the ball, conceding just 12 runs off his four overs for two wickets. He was accurate and mean, bowling a stump to stump line and didn’t give much room to the batsmen. The fact that he conceded only boundary in his entire spell speaks volumes of his discipline.

Mohammad Kaif was stumped to a wide flighted delivery from Amit Mishra, and Bopara hit a low full toss straight to deep square leg. At 113 for 7 in the 16th over, Nannes and Maharoof against the tail was always going to be an unfair contest.

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