DHARAMSALA, MAY 15: The focus may have been on Delhi Daredevils’ batting and bowling, but it was actually their fielding which let them down against Kings XI Punjab, felt stand-in captain James Hopes. Although the visitors lost by 29 runs, Hopes felt that had Delhi held on to their chances, the story could have been a different one.
Put in to bat, Punjab put up an imposing 170/6, with the impetus after a quiet start coming from Paul Valthaty (62 off 50 balls) and Shaun Marsh (46 off 28 balls). However, Valthaty was dropped when he had made only 10, Adam Gilchrist (9) survived a run-out chance in the third over, while Dinesh Karthik (19-ball 27) was also dropped when he had scored only two runs. Unfortunately for Delhi, their opponents had a better time in the field, taking all their chances to restrict the Daredevils to 141/8.
After the game, Hopes lamented his side’s lapses, admitting they had proved costly in the end. “I am not sure luck had much to do with it tonight. Our fielding lost us this game. In Twenty20, it’s about taking the half-chances. You saw how Ryan Harris took that catch on the boundary. [Harris pulled off a one-handed catch to dismiss Travis Birt in the 18th over.] That’s the kind of stuff we haven’t been doing.”
His opposite number, meanwhile, was delighted with his team’s effort in the field. “There were some great catches. The ones on the boundary are always difficult,” said Punjab skipper Gilchrist. “There were one or two little blemishes, but in general the enthusiasm was terrific.”
Punjab were 70/1 in 10 overs before jumping to 115/1 three overs later, with Marsh in particular severely harsh on Sridharan Sriram, whose one over went for 25 runs. Earlier, Valthaty had taken 18 runs off the 11th over, bowled by Hopes. “Sriram and I bowled an over, and both those two overs cost us 50 runs,” rued the Australian. “So we knew 170 was a bit of an inflated score on this wicket, and that’s how it turned out to be in the end.”
Gilchrist agreed that the target for Delhi was a stiff one. “It was hard to tell [what would be a good score on this wicket]. Our initial target was around 140, but then Shaun and Paul got going, and that one over of spin when Shaun just seized the initiative totally changed the momentum. He saw an opening and really cashed in on it. It was an all-round effort.”
Praising his bowlers, in particular man-of-the-match Piyush Chawla, Gilchrist added: “I always thought it would be a tough challenge [to chase 171]. The only worry was that it is a small ground. But our seamers bowled well and Piyush was outstanding with his control. He had missed a couple of games but he has come back and shown that he is a world-class bowler. He’s got great variation and his wrong ’un is a lethal delivery, particularly for the left-handers. He also got it to turn a little bit.”
Chawla (3/16) himself was pleased as well. “After missing out in the two games against Pune (Warriors) and Mumbai (Indians), I needed to come back strongly and I am really happy. The little extra bounce helped me a lot. It was also nice to see the catches taken by Mandeep (Singh) [to dismiss Irfan Pathan] and Ryan. It really helped the team at the end of the day.”
As Kings XI Punjab celebrated the win that moved them up to fifth place in the standings and kept them alive in the competition, Hopes was left to reflect on what might have been. “Today pretty much sums up our entire season. We have to take those chances.”