Delhi secure much-needed win
Bangalore Royal Challengers ruled themselves out of the semi-finals following their fifth successive defeat of the tournament. Tight spells from Delhi's medium-pacers kept Bangalore down to a modest total before Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag's 90-run opening stand - filled with full-blooded strokes - allowed them to careen towards victory.
Though the Delhi Daredevils suffered a few scares after the openers fell, with Bangalore bowling intelligently and catching sharply, they recovered in time to boost their semi-final hopes. Delhi's fourth successful chase was another instance of them hunting down a target without losing more than five wickets.
Considering the form that Gambhir and Sehwag have been in through the IPL, Bangalore's 154 was hardly a daunting one. Gambhir set the tone of the partnership with a four to square leg off the first ball. He then drove Dale Steyn and Praveen Kumar for fours through cover and long-on as Delhi reached 60 in the first five overs.
Sehwag wasn't one to be left behind and after mauling Zaheer Khan for three fours, he latched on to Praveen's wayward length, upper-cutting him for four, then pulling two fours and a six before he was caught by a diving Bharat Chipli at backward point off the same bowler. But Sehwag had left Delhi in a very comfortable position for they needed only five runs an over when he got out.
However Gambhir followed ten runs later when he took a risky second run and couldn't make the crease before Shreevats Goswami knocked off the bails. Goswami was also quick to effect a stumping off Anil Kumble that sent back Tillakaratne Dilshan for four. Two more wickets fell in the next two overs but Farveez Maharoof and Shikhar Dhawan wrapped it up with 10 balls to spare.
Maharoof was also chiefly responsible for keeping Bangalore in check. He replaced Glenn McGrath, who went for only nine runs in his first three overs, and took a wicket off his first ball - getting Jacques Kallis, Bangalore's eighth opener, to edge a fuller delivery to the keeper. He also bothered Goswami when he got to the crease, cramping him for room and troubling him with the lift he got from a back-of-length delivery.
But Goswami broke loose in the next over by Pradeep Sangwan - pulling him for a six and a four to midwicket and then flicking another four to fine leg. But it was his late cut - which he played against Sangwan and Yo Mahesh - that oozed confidence. He waited till the last second to cut to third man and Sangwan's figures after two overs read 2-0-37-0. Goswami also tried to disconcert the bowler by either stepping out of the crease or sliding gracefully outside off stump and reached his fifty off 39 balls. His wicket considerably slowed down Bangalore and though Misbah-ul-Haq hit 24 runs in the final over, it wasn't enough to rein in Delhi.
However Delhi haven't moved up the points table with this win and have only two more games to go, while their upcoming opponents, Mumbai Indians have four and Kolkata Knight Riders have three games left.
Nishi Narayanan is a staff writer at Cricinfo