Gambhir and Dhawan seal Delhi win
After two first-innings totals which had gone in excess of 200, the bowlers at last had their say at the Feroz Shah Kotla, as Delhi Daredevils thrashed Rajasthan Royals by nine wickets in a disappointingly one-sided game. Rajasthan didn't have a chance after their batsmen had floundered badly, putting up a dismal 129 on the board. Gautam Gambhir's unbeaten 58, and his 112-run partnership with Shikhar Dhawan - who helped himself to a half-century as well - finished off the run-chase in a mere 15.1 overs.
The only bit that went right for Rajasthan was the toss, which Shane Warne, their captain, won and had little hesitation in choosing to bat. When Taruwar Kohli survived five deliveries from Glenn McGrath in the corridor and spanked the sixth one over cover point for six, it seemed the run-fest had started all over again. As it turned out, Rajasthan had little to celebrate thereafter. In his next over, Kohli chanced his arm again against McGrath, but only found Mithun Manhas at midwicket. McGrath went on to bowl the first maiden over of the tournament, and from there Delhi never let the initiative slip.
Rajasthan did their cause no favours with two run-outs, which severely hampered their momentum. Shane Watson hinted at carrying on the good work that his fellow Australians had managed earlier in the day in Mohali, pulling McGrath and Brett Geeves for fours, but his resistance was ended swiftly following a misunderstanding with Mohammad Kaif. Yusuf Pathan had already fallen to the run-out route earlier, and when Kaif, who struggled to find the gaps and the runs, scooped one to Geeves at short fine leg, Rajasthan had slumped to 57 for 5.
In a team which had the immense figures of McGrath and Daniel Vettori in their bowling line-up, the hero of the day was Farveez Maharoof, who bowled with excellent control, changing his pace and offering the batsmen no width to score off. His dismissal of Darren Lehmann, who was trapped on the shuffle, was another blow to Rajasthan's hopes of getting a challenging total on the board.
Ravindra Jadeja, the left-hand batsman, offered some resistance, hitting Vettori for a six and a four off his first two balls, but Vettori had the last laugh, deceiving him with a quicker one which rattled the stumps. Warne and Dinesh Salunkhe ensured that Delhi needed to score at more than a run a ball, but on a flat pitch against a batting line-up which included Virender Sehwag and Gambhir at the top of the order, there was little chance of defending that score.
Their opening partnership lasted just ten balls, but it was enough to set the tone for the run-chase. Gambhir's slash and straight drive in the first over off Munaf Patel both found the boundary, while Sehwag had the home crowd on their feet and cheering wildly after just three balls, all of which sped to different parts of the ground: a lofted straight drive over Watson's head, a spanking pull through midwicket, and then the best shot of them all - a delectable late cut between the wicketkeeper and slip. That, unfortunately, was as good as it got, as Watson hit back, ripping a quick one which rattled the stumps off the pads.
Nothing could stop Gambhir, though, as he continued the Twenty20 form he had shown in the World Cup in South Africa. An audacious extra-cover drive for six and a late cut off Munaf quickly brought the asking rate below a run a ball, after which it was a cool canter.
Rajasthan's one hope was Warne, but Gambhir and Dhawan didn't allow him to settle in either, sweeping and pulling him for fours even as Warne's reactions suggested he was only a whisker away from a wicket. He pulled himself off the attack after just two overs, and the rest was a mere formality.
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo