Deccan drown in Sehwag deluge
Delhi Daredevils 179 for 6 (Sehwag 119, Ishant 2-16) beat Deccan Chargers 175 for 5 (Duminy 55, Sangakkara 44, Agarkar 2-29) by four wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
For a large part of his career, it was tough being Sachin Tendulkar. In the IPL, it's tougher being Virender Sehwag. After having watched his bowlers take wickets off no-balls and his fielders drop sitters, the Delhi Daredevils captain took his frustration out on the Deccan Chargers with a blistering century, his first in Twenty20s. The assault bettered his masterpiece against Kochi Tuskers Kerala, and stunned Deccan into offering him two chances. Unmindful of the complete lack of support from his team-mates, Sehwag cashed in and drowned Deccan in a flood of boundaries that took the bite out of a challenging total. The next highest score was James Hopes' 17.
Delhi's bowlers had been profligate in letting Deccan surge to 175, and their top order, barring Sehwag, let the pressure get to them. Aaron Finch, Naman Ojha and Venugopal Rao combusted against seam as Sehwag watched bemused from his end. From 25 for 3 in the sixth over, only Sehwag could have taken Delhi home, and he did it in some style, moving from 8 off 13 balls to 119 off 56, pushing Deccan to the brink of elimination.
Sehwag has made a career out of sticking to his guns regardless of the situation, and his approach today was no different. Two balls after Venugopal Rao top-edged a pull off Ishant Sharma, Sehwag shuffled across and glanced a boundary from the middle-stump line to fine leg. In the next over, Travis Birt struggled against Daniel Christian, getting beaten three times in four balls, as the asking-rate crossed eleven at by the end of seven overs.
Sehwag broke free in the next over, bowled by IPL debutant Ishan Malhotra. The first ball disappeared over deep square leg, the next over deep midwicket. Two more boundaries followed, as Sehwag looted 23 off the over. As if to dispel the notion that he had targeted just the newcomer, Sehwag plundered 13 off the next over, from Christian.
Sangakkara brought on spin, so often Sehwag's strength as well as weakness. Sehwag displayed his strength first ball, dancing down and launching Amit Mishra over the straight boundary. The weakness was on display next ball, as he rushed out again but ended up slicing to sweeper cover. That is when Deccan decided to return the earlier favours, substitute Ankit Sharma clanging a simple chance. Sehwag gladly guided the third ball through third man for four.
Birt departed in the 11th over, having contributed four runs to a partnership of 61 off 28 balls. Sehwag continued to ignore the procession at the other end, dispatching Mishra for three consecutive fours. The second of those boundaries slipped into the boundary from Ravi Teja's grasp, after he had managed to get both hands to the chance.
With 69 needed off 48, Sangakkara brought Dale Steyn back. Steyn dug one in short, Sehwag got on top of it, and flashed it past backward point. A desperate Sangakkara turned to Bharat Chipli's gentle medium pacers. Mistake. Sehwag brought up his hundred off the first ball, and then creamed the next two for sixes. Twenty-seven needed off 30. Game over. Though Steyn had Sehwag caught behind in the 17th over, the remaining batsmen managed to complete the heist.
Victory was looking far away for Delhi when they had allowed Deccan to run amok on a bouncy pitch. Sangakkara and Shikhar Dhawan had chances grassed, and JP Duminy and Christian would have been dismissed within the space of three balls, had Yogesh Nagar not over-stepped twice in the 15th over.
Two of the four reprieved batsmen made Delhi pay dearly. Sangakkara doubled his score to make 44, and Duminy went better, clattering four sixes on his way to converting 23 off 18 deliveries into 55 from 31. The no-balls meant what should have been 114 for 5 in the 15th over turned into 175 for 5 in 20 overs.
Sangakkara's partnership with Duminy was a stop-start affair, with punchy and edged boundaries alternating with swings-and-misses. More luck was to come Deccan's way when Morkel dropped Sangakkara at short fine leg off Ajit Agarkar, and then failed to get near the ball when Dhawan top-edged a pull off the next delivery.
After Dhawan fell, Sangakkara's aggression allowed Duminy to play himself in before launching into an onslaught. Duminy, who had made 77 runs in five previous games, hardly looking like the batsman who had been struggling for runs. He added 71 in 33 deliveries with Christian, as Deccan made 108 in the last ten overs. It counted for little in the end.
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo