Dilshan guides Delhi to victory
For a while it looked like Delhi Daredevils' batsmen had been a tad complacent while chasing a modest target, which Bangalore Royal Challengers' bowlers defended tenaciously, but an unbeaten half-century from Tillakaratne Dilshan completed their third consecutive win in the tournament. The six-wicket victory took Delhi level with Deccan Chargers on top of the points table, with six each.
The only highlight for Bangalore, who suffered their fourth consecutive defeat, was the performance of their weak bowling attack, who kept them in the game longer than most people expected. Their top-order batsmen, despite changes to personnel and order, disappointed once again. Their overseas players failed to fire, and their fielding went to pieces just when they had a sniff at pulling off an upset win.
Delhi lost their openers, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, early and Dilshan and AB de Villiers went about chasing the target of 150 calmly. They hardly attempted expansive shots, preferring instead to play the ball into gaps and run swiftly between the wickets. The spinners, Anil Kumble and KP Appanna, bowled a tight line and length and conceded few boundaries. As a result Delhi had scored only 64 for 2 after 10 overs but the equation - 86 runs off the last 10 - was manageable.
Dilshan was perhaps lucky to survive a run-out appeal soon after the tactical time-out. He was short of his crease when Ross Taylor's throw hit the stumps, but the third umpire was not convinced that Boucher had not broken the stumps with his glove before the ball found its target. de Villiers, however, fell soon after, bowled by a delivery from Appanna that turned past the bat from outside leg to hit leg stump. Dinesh Karthik started brightly, clouting a four and a six, but fell soon after, caught by Jacques Kallis at deep cover, and left Delhi at 106 for 4.
At this point Bangalore had 43 runs to defend in the last four overs. That was when they needed to raise their game but their fielding let them down during the 17th over, which was bowled by Kallis. Dilshan took a single after smashing the third ball out of St George's Park, and Mithun Manhas lofted the next towards long-on. Robin Uthappa, who's having a nightmare of a tournament with the bat, misjudged the catch: he came in too far only for the ball to fly over his head for four. Manhas pulled the next ball to deep midwicket where Appanna mis-fielded to allow another boundary. Delhi scored 19 runs off the over, needed only 24 off the last three, which they managed with ease.
Delhi's batsmen have been their strength so far in the tournament, but today their bowlers laid the platform for victory by restricting Bangalore to 149. They were challenged by Pietersen and Taylor during an aggressive partnership, but the two spinners, Daniel Vettori and Amit Mishra, struck on either side of the strategic time-out to throw Bangalore off course.
Delhi's dominance began with the first ball of the match. Dirk Nannes produced a perfectly pitched delivery which angled across Kallis, who had replaced Jesse Ryder as opener. Kallis thought the ball could be left and shouldered arms, only to hear it clip the top of off stump. It was the fifth time in five matches that a Bangalore opener had been dismissed for a duck.
Uthappa had scored 32 runs in four innings at a strike-rate of 71 before today, but Bangalore have almost no option but to play him. His innings ended on 3 when he top-edged a pull off the front foot against Ashish Nehra, when he should have been playing back.
Pietersen had said at the toss that he "had to do something today". He and Taylor made slow starts, but stepped up a gear against Nehra in the fourth over. Bangalore were 45 for 2 after the Powerplay at which point Virender Sehwag introduced spinners from both ends. Mishra was able to tie the batsmen down, but Vettori wasn't. Taylor cut him deftly for four, and Pietersen charged and hit him over long-on to take 13 runs off his compatriot's first over. In his second, Pietersen swept powerfully to the boundary but a moment's rashness cost him his wicket the very next delivery. Pietersen attempted to switch-hit Vettori's quicker ball through midwicket, but missed and was bowled, falling for 37 in the last over before the tactical time-out.
Mishra dealt Bangalore a crippling blow in the first over after the break, trapping Taylor leg before with a googly. Bangalore were struggling at 78 for 4, but managed to reach 149 largely due to Boucher's blows over the leg-side boundary in the penultimate over.
George Binoy is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo