Deccan felled by Sehwag fireworks
A clinical performance from the Delhi Daredevils, beginning with some miserly bowling and capped by Virender Sehwag's blistering 41-ball 94, produced an early finish in Hyderabad, the Deccan Chargers losing by nine wickets with seven overs to spare.
For the second game running, the bowlers and the top order did the job for Delhi; Sehwag had fallen after a cameo against the Rajasthan Royals but he took full toll of the Deccan bowlers, smashing 30 off one Andrew Symonds over to help his team to another resounding win.
The victory, though, had been set up by Delhi's bowlers and followed another unimpressive performance by the Deccan batsmen. Rohit Sharma's dazzling 66, including 26 in a Farveez Maharoof over, had helped them recover from a shambolic start to post 142 for 8, but the score was well short of being competitive on a flat deck. At Eden Gardens the pitch was to blame but at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, the bowlers held sway over the Deccan batsmen for most of the innings.
The presence of Adam Gilchrist, Andrew Symonds and Shahid Afridi in one team might scare off any bowling attack but Glenn McGrath and Mohammad Asif were perhaps the ideal pair to challenge them. McGrath started in typical miserly fashion with a maiden, but it was Asif who did the early damage. Adam Gilchrist played on after smashing Asif over the square-leg boundary, and two overs later Laxman only managed a faint inside-edge onto the stumps off an incutter.
At the other end, Venugopal Rao was all at sea against McGrath, managing only two runs off his first eight deliveries against the Australian, before breaking the shackles with a four over long-off. He had a lucky stay at the crease, with mistimed pulls and heaves, till Farveez Maharoof ended his misery, inducing a hit straight down the throat of Shikhar Dhawan on the cover boundary.
McGrath bowled through his four but Andrew Symonds' two consecutive fours in his fourth - pulling one to midwicket and stepping out to make room for one over midwicket - spoilt his figures. Symonds had top scored for his side in the Kolkata nightmare, but Maharoof prevented a repeat, getting him to edge one to wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik. Rohit got going with a first-ball four off Yo Mahesh, and took his chances from the start, hitting two streaky boundaries off Maharoof. There was a brief lull after Shahid Afridi fell leg-before to Rajat Bhatia, but Rohit got the momentum going with a six off Bhatia before going berserk in the 18th over bowled by Maharoof.
Midwicket was targeted the first two deliveries, then Rohit made room to send one screaming through the covers and paddled one to fine leg, before a dead-straight drive, all resulting in boundaries. That over - which read 1,6,6,4,4,4,2 - ensured Deccan reached a respectable score. Rohit reached his fifty off just 31 balls, falling for 66 off 36, and saw a crucial 52 coming off the last three overs.
Delhi's reply began with Sehwag surviving a close leg-before shout against Chaminda Vaas, and he soon began to make Deccan pay, hitting RP Singh for fours through midwicket and to the fine-leg boundary. He was on 13 when given another life, Pragyan Ojha spilling one on the boundary, Vaas the aggrieved bowler yet again.
Gautam Gambhir fell to RP in the next over, but Shikhar Dhawan came up with another unbeaten innings, acting as a perfect foil to Sehwag's pyrotechnics at the other end. Short deliveries were dispatched with disdain by both batsmen before Sehwag cut loose against Sanjay Bangar. Twenty came off four deliveries: a four over backward point was followed by two lobs behind square leg, before he hammered one over midwicket to bring up fifty off just 27 balls. Gilchrist fluffed a stumping down the leg side as Sehwag tried to hit Ojha inside-out; but the blitz that followed would have deflated the already demoralised Deccan players.
At 112 for 1 off 12 overs, Delhi were almost home but their captain was perhaps keen on flying out of Hyderabad quickly. The 13th over, from Symonds , saw Sehwag levelling the scores as he dealt in boundaries, alternating between fours and sixes. A wide from Vaas the next over sealed the win. Deccan would be disappointed with their second consecutive loss but, thoroughly outplayed by the visitors, they can have no complaints.
Mathew Varghese is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo