Average Delhi keep Punjab's campaign alive
Kings XI Punjab 170 for 6 (Valthaty 62, Marsh 46, Irfan 3-28) beat Delhi Daredevils 141 for 8 (Chawla 3-16) by 29 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The scorecard will say Paul Valthaty hammered 62 to power Punjab to an eventually match-winning 170, but that's not even half the story. Through 50 balls of clueless flailing, Valthaty put on a display completely out of place in the beautiful setting that is Dharamsala. Delhi Daredevils matched his ordinariness with a shoddy show on the field, followed by the sort of batting display that can be expected from a one-man team, when that one man is missing. Punjab's bowlers, led by a resurgent Piyush Chawla, capitalised on Delhi's woes to run to their third win on the trot, keeping their late-blooming campaign alive.
By all counts it was an average game of cricket, and the tone for the ordinariness was set right at the start. There was swing for Irfan Pathan, but not enough pace. There were swings of Adam Gilchrist's bat, but not too many connections. At the other end, Morne Morkel's other-worldly bounce systematically exposed Valthaty's limitations. The pressure was on Punjab and the chances promptly followed, but Delhi graciously fluffed them. Yogesh Nagar and Irfan combined to mess up a straightforward run-out opportunity, before Venugopal Rao dropped a chance at slip. Delhi's generosity was duly reciprocated by Punjab, as Gilchrist gifted his wicket soon after the botched run-out. It was like watching two football sides trying to outdo each other in an own-goal contest.
Shaun Marsh's advent sought to bring sanity to the proceedings - he began by charming Aavishkar Salvi over mid-on, before shredding him through point - but Valthaty's methods continued to spoil the scenery. Initially he attempted on-the-up thumps, regardless of length, and often missed by ridiculously large margins. He later tried to counter the bounce with cuts, but rarely made contact. He then resorted to the pull, and it was soon evident why he doesn't play that shot too often. On the one occasion when he managed to middle the ball, Varun Aaron at fine-leg ran in too far, and the ball sailed over the boundary.
Valthaty eventually found his match against James Hopes' trundle and ignited the innings with two violent sixes over the leg-side and an edged four through third man. Bowling listless lengths to Valthaty wasn't Hopes' biggest mistake of the innings though. He brought on S Sriram's nondescript left-arm spin in the 13th over and Marsh indulged himself to some slog-sweeping violence. The over bled 25, including three big sixes over the leg side, as Punjab galloped from 70 for 1 in ten overs to 115 for 1 in 13.
Delhi managed to contain the damage in the remaining overs, through Aaron's pace, and Irfan's surprising rediscovery of old-ball swing. Marsh and Valthaty perished to Irfan's stock indippers off successive balls in the 15th over. Delhi could have taken control in the next over, but Naman Ojha grassed a chance to let off Dinesh Karthik, allowing Punjab to motor along to 170.
Delhi's chase followed a now-familiar template: David Warner's shocking loss of form - he had cobbled up 47 runs in his last six innings before the game - and Virender Sehwag's absence meant the innings lost steam quickly. Along with Naman Ojha, Warner played out ten successive dot balls early on, in the process giving Praveen Kumar his fourth maiden of the season. Ojha eventually found release by clouting Shalabh Srivastava for two sixes and a four in the sixth over, but it proved to be a false dawn. Ojha guided Srivastava behind in the eighth over for a run-a-ball 28, before Warner miscued the same bowler for a run-a-ball 29. Run-a-balls were, however, not going to be enough.
Chawla has endured a rough time recently: he struggled for impact in the World Cup and his place in the team became a national debate; his struggles continued in the IPL, and he's been left out for the West Indies ODIs. On Sunday, he finally came into his own with a sprightly spell, in which he refrained from his old failing of over-doing the googly. He accounted for Sriram, Rao and Hopes in successive overs, as Delhi went down with the setting sun in Dharamsala.
Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo