Dilshan heroics take Delhi home
Tournament favourites Delhi Daredevils turned in a thoroughly professional performance in the clash of the heavyweights at SuperSport Park, beating Deccan Chargers by six wickets. Tillakaratne Dilshan proved his worth yet again with an unbeaten fifty to steer his team to 149; he was supported by Dinesh Karthik, who finally delivered with the bat after a disappointing season last year. This was Deccan's first defeat in the tournament and they now share points with Delhi at the top of the table, though with a better net run rate.
Delhi controlled most of the game, save one passage of play in Deccan's innings when Dwayne Smith got going. The 10-over break has often worked against the batting team in this tournament but the reverse happened here. Deccan looked out of sorts at 55 for 4 with the Delhi spinners bowling in tandem before Smith hit 48 off 28 balls. The bowlers hit back, though, to keep them to 148, and Sehwag would have settled for that having opted to field in good batting conditions.
Deccan's poor start pushed them on the backfoot and gave Delhi the momentum they needed. For once, the top order failed and the responsibility fell on those following to steer the team through. Adam Gilchrist and Herschelle Gibbs fell to poor shots against Dirk Nannes, who bowled with confidence, getting a lot of bounce and nip off the pitch.
The spinners started off well, taking two wickets before the strategy time-out to stall a brief Deccan recovery led by Rohit Sharma. But Smith seemed determined to ruin their figures. He picked the usually miserly Daniel Vettori for three successive fours and pulled Mishra flat over deep square-leg, then lofted him over long-on for consecutive sixes.
Curiously, another spinner, Tillakaratne Dilshan, was brought on to replace Vettori but there was no respite. Smith's confidence rubbed off on debutant T Suman and Deccan scored 51 off three overs to reclaim the advantage.
Smith regularly made room to hit the seamers with powerful bottom-hand shots but ultimately fell to an inside-out loft over the covers off Nehra. The total looked competitive but one got the feeling Deccan were around 20 runs short against Delhi's strong batting.
The chase began on a positive note. Sehwag, in need of runs, looked like turning the corner by slapping wide deliveries over point and elegantly flicking to the on side when the bowlers strayed. However, when RP Singh cramped him for a bit of room, he slashed hard and found Herschelle Gibbs at backward point and what looked like the beginning of an enterprising comeback innings turned into a cameo.
The in-form AB de Villiers perished for 5 in front of his home crowd, trying to go over the top. Gautam Gambhir also looked fairly authoritative while at the crease, slicing two boundaries wide of point off Shoaib Ahmed, but gave it all way trying to paddle him around the corner in the same over. Whether he gloved the ball en route to the pad was uncertain but it was a risk not worth taking for a man looking to carry the chase and when he fell, the score was 49 for 3 and the game was wide open.
Karthik and Dilshan played sensibly in the middle overs and settled on knocking the balls into the gaps knowing they weren't chasing the tallest of targets. They looked comfortable against Pragyan Ojha and the backup bowling of Smith and Rohit Sharma couldn't do much either. The momentum stayed with Delhi when pair tonked sixes off the slower bowlers over the on side. Karthik then whipped Edwards to bisect a narrow window between two fielders on the on side, an obvious sign of his confidence.
Deccan were unable to get the breakthroughs and the pair offered no chances. The frustration showed on Fidel Edwards when he was unfairly penalised for bowling a bouncer. Gilchrist walked across to fan the flames and it got fairly heated when Dilshan clubbed a six off Edwards over deep square-leg and seemed to make an angry gesture towards the bowler. That six, though, had sealed the match and handed Deccan their first defeat of the season.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo