NEW DELHI, April 29: Delhi Daredevils battled hard to make a great comeback and claim a superb one-run win over a determined Rajasthan Royals at the jampacked Ferozshah Kotla in the DLF Indian Premier League here this evening.
Rajasthan Royals’ bowlers and fielders restricted Delhi Daredevils to 152 for six in 20 overs and then skipper Rahul Dravid and his young protégé Ajinkya Rahane shared a 99-run opening stand to help the visiting side get close to victory before some moments of magic turned the game for Delhi Daredevils.
Delhi Daredevils remained at the top of the league with 14 points from nine games. The teams will meet in Jaipur in the return game on Tuesday.
The first moment of magic – in the form of a super running catch by Ajit Agarkar – infused hope into Delhi Daredevils’ attempt to keep Rajasthan Royals in check. Agarkar ran back to his right at long-on and leapt to pluck a brilliant catch when Dravid drove Irfan Pathan powerfully after making 40 (38 balls, five fours).
The catch ended the skipper’s determined opening stand with Rahane. Dravid took on the Delhi Daredevils attack initially, outscoring his younger partner, but Rahane found his rhythm and soon regained the Orange Cap from Delhi Daredevils skipper Virender Sehwag who had helped his team overcome early setbacks by scoring his fourth successive half-century.
The second moment of magic for the Delhi Daredevils came when Morne Morkel bowled a great penultimate over and trapped Brad Hodge leg before. Umesh Yadav bowled the final over with vim and vigour, with the visiting side needing 12 to win. With two needed off the final ball, Owais Shah was run out by wicket-keeper Naman Ojha when Rahane (84 not out, 63 balls, nine fours, one six) and he tried to steal a bye.
Earlier, Sehwag, whose three previous knocks were worth 57, 87 not out and 73 runs, made 63 (39 balls, eight fours, two sixes) before he was caught at sweeper cover off left-arm spinner Brad Hogg. His first six – over extra cover off Kevon Cooper – took his tally of sixes to 100 from 91 T20 matches. Importantly, he added 76 runs for the third wicket with Ross Taylor.
Taylor (25, 35 balls), who was content to rotate the strike when Sehwag was the crease, was bowled leg-stump by the gangling fast medium bowler Pankaj Singh but he had played his part in rebuilding the innings after walking in at 19 for two. The Delhi Daredevils’ late surge was handled by Yogesh Nagar (27, 20 balls, two fours, two sixes).
After choosing to bat first, the home team lost Mahela Jayawardene (6) and Kevin Pietersen (5) in the second and third overs respectively. Jayawardene was caught at backward square-leg off Pankaj Singh while Pietersen, playing his last game at the Kotla this IPL season, was caught at slip off left-arm spinner Ankeet Chavan.
Even though he did not claim a wicket, Kevon Cooper was the pick of the Rajasthan Royals bowlers, conceding just 19 runs in his four overs. Pankaj Singh had returns of two for 25 in his four overs. Hogg and Chavan had identical figures of one for 31 each in their four overs. Rajasthan Royals would be pleased with its effort on the field.
In second innings, Rajasthan Royals needed only 15 runs in last two overs with eight wickets in hand. In this pressure situation, Sehwag gave the responsibility of bowling the over number 19 to Morne Morkel. The ‘purple cap’ holder Morkel didn’t disappoint his captain as he gave away only three runs and also picked up the important wicket of Brad Hodge with a well directed yorker.
Daredevils’ star performer:
With his fourth consecutive half-century, Virender Sehwag is our star performer for today. Sehwag hit a smashing knock of 63 (eight fours, two sixes) in 39 balls. Today’s inning makes Sehwag the only batsmen in IPL history to score four consecutive half-centuries and with that he also picked up his second consecutive man-of-the-match award.
DLF Maximum 6s: Yogesh Nagar
Karbonn Kamal catch: Ajit Agarkar
Man of the match: Virender Sehwag
Delhi Daredevils next travel to Jaipur to play their return game against Rajasthan Royals on May 1 at Sawai Mansingh stadium.