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Punjab sink Delhi to stay afloat

By Rediff cricket
Last updated on: May 15, 2009 23:53 IST
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Kings XI Punjab beat Delhi Daredevils by six wickets in their Indian Premier League match at the OUTsurance Oval in Bloemfontein on Friday.

Chasing a modest 121 to keep their chances alive in the competition, Punjab won with five balls to spare.

Kumar Sangakkara made a patient 43 not out of 47 deliveries ((6x4) to ensure Punjab ease past the Delhi total after an early wobble.

Going into the match, Delhi was virtually assured of a last fourth berth 9they still top the table).

Virender Sehwag's team had won eight of their 10 matches, including their last four, and had only come up short against Chennai and Rajasthan.

Moreover, they had an advantage over the other teams in that they have played a match less.

Punjab, on the other hand, was finding it increasingly difficult to match their semi-final showing of the inaugural season. Their win moved them up to sixth in the table.

However, they can ill afford to lose any of their two remaining games and even if they win both of them they aren't assured of the same.

Delhi thrashed Punjab by 10 wickets in a rained-curtailed match at Newlands when the teams first met in the tournament. Another win for Delhi would have meant Punjab's tournament is over. Fortunately for them, that didn't happen.

Earlier, an excellent bowling effort, particularly from Brett Lee (4-1-15-3), helped Kings XI Punjab restrict the table toppers to a paltry 120 for nine.

The extent of the dominance of the Punjab bowlers over the Delhi batsmen can be judged from the fact that the final five overs yielded only 23 runs (for Delhi) and as many as five wickets (for Punjab).

Delhi innings:

Punjab skipper Yuvraj Singh won the toss and invited Delhi to bat first.

Captain Sehwag (9/8) blasted Lee's fourth ball through the covers for a boundary and repeated the shot with the same result in the second ball of the Aussie's second over.

But Lee had the last laugh.

The fast bowler's persistence with the short ball aimed at Sehwag's rib cage finally unsettled the batsman and he edged one to Kumar Sangakkara behind the stumps.

In the next over Gautam Gambhir (8/11) was brilliantly run out by Wilkin Mota-Sangakkara combine to justify Yuvraj's decision to field.

The famed opening duo (of Gambhir and Sehwag) have flattered to deceive in this tournament and Friday's failure was yet another addition to their disappointing efforts in the tournament. 

S Sreesanth, who had been at the receiving end in his last few matches, came in to bowl in the final over before Powerplay and his first over cost Punjab 11 runs, with both Tillekeratnee Dilshan (10/19) and AB de Villiers (11/11) helping themselves with a boundary each.

However, the Kerala seamer came back with a vengeance, first having the South Africa caught by Yuvraj at mid-on in his second over and then repeating the feat in his third, this time accounting for the Sri Lankan.

Delhi went into the strategic time-out in deep trouble with just 52 runs on board and with four of their top batsmen back in the pavilion.

As the game resumed, Mithun Manhas and Dinesh Karthik began rebuilding the Delhi innings and their strategy was the conventional one – to combine caution with aggression.

So while the first over after the break yielded 10, the 14th over, bowled by Yuvraj, helped Delhi break free.

Karthik cleared the midwicket fence for the maximum – the first and only of Delhi's innings – and some poor fielding ensured that over cost Punjab 14 runs.

The next over by Piyush Chawla went for 12, with Manhas getting the ball past the extra cover fielder for a boundary.

Yuvraj was forced to hand the ball to Mota, after his expensive over, and the move worked to his advantage.

The fifth wicket partnership for Delhi read exactly 50 runs when Manhas (26/25) hit straight to Sunny Sohal at deep midwicket. The Delhi innings was delicately poised at 104 for five after 16 overs.

And Lee added to their woes with a wicket-maiden in the 17th over, frustrating Farveez Maharoof (3/8), playing in his first match of the season, for the first five balls with clever variation of pace before knocking out his middle stump with a length ball.

Daniel Vettori (1/2), also back in the side after a sabbatical, fell in the final ball of the next over by Irfan, caught by Sohal at mid-off.

Rajat Bhatia (0/1) skied to Chawla at third man in the first ball of the penultimate over to ensure two things: first he becomes yet another addition to the tournament's growing list of golden ducks and secondly, Lee getting his third wicket.

Karthik's (32/29) resilience came to an end in the final over when Irfan (4-0-22-2) had him caught by Mota at long on. 

Punjab innings: 

The Punjab reply started on an outstanding note – Simon Katich (20/10) smashing 20 runs of the second over bowled by Pradeep Sangwan.

The Australian southpaw two boundaries, one over backward point and one over point before finishing the over clearing the third man for a maximum.

However, the Punjab batting hit a roadblock soon after.

Maharoof struck of his first ball, having Katich caught behind by Karthik.

Luke Pomersbach smashed two boundaries in the same over to keep pace from Punjab. But Ashish Nehra cleaned up Sohal (3/12) in the first ball of the next over. Three balls later the left-armer, who played for Mumbai in the inaugural season, was unfortunate to witness Yuvraj dropped by Gambhir at first slip when the Punjab captain was yet to open his account.

Maharoof had Pomersbach (9/8) caught by de Villiers at first slip in the final Powerplay over to reduce Punjab to 37 for three.

Yuvraj and Sangakkara then started doing for Punjab what the Kathik-Manhas combine had done for Delhi.

The duo ensured Punjab went into the break without any further damage, at 50 for three, requiring 71 runs of their final 10 overs.

Sangakkara stepped up the pedal after resumption, hitting Bhatia for successive boundaries and also dispatching Dilshan to the fence.

With the Sri Lankan freeing his arms, runs came quickly and the total improved to 86 for three after 15 overs.

But just when the 53-run fourth wicket partnership threatened to take the match out of Delhi's reach, Yuvraj (18/31), who had looked out of sorts throughout his stay, hit a Sangwan delivery straight to Sehwag at backward point.

However, it was Sangwan who made things simpler for Punjab. The young bowler, who had had to ensure some punishment from the Punjab batsmen early on, suffered again when Irfan hit him for two maximums in his final over, one over midwicket and the other over the square leg boundary.

And when Irfan hoisted Maharoof for another maximum wide of long on it was all over.

It was befitting that Sangakkara, who had anchored the innings to perfection, hit the winning boundary, through the covers of Vettori. 

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