Sehwag finds form in easy win
Barring a late scare by Harbhajan Singh , who took 4 for 17, the Delhi Daredevils go into the semi-final with a confidence boosting six-wicket win against the Mumbai Indians. At the toss Virender Sehwag said he wanted to field to give his side some much needed practice chasing. And a fair bit of practice they got, with Sehwag leading the power-hitting top order who stayed ahead of the fairly steep required run-rate.
Gautam Gambhir and David Warner, Delhi's openers, blitzed to 30 in the first three overs. It started from the sixth ball of the first over. Lasith Malinga found bounce and bowled over 140kph but Gambhir picked his slower bouncer and pulled it for four to square leg. Then Gambhir and Warner hit 22 off the next 12 balls. Gambhir walked out and hit Dhawal Kulkarni for a four behind square leg before lifting a fuller one down the ground for another boundary.
Rahil Shaikh began his IPL campaign with a high full toss that Warner pulled to midwicket boundary before being picked for another in the same area by Gambhir. Warner lofted Kulkarni for a six over long-on but then top-edged one and ended up losing his wicket and his bat. But Delhi couldn't afford to slow down, needing over seven an over. Not that they would slow down when Sehwag joined Gambhir at the crease. Kulkarni was the one to suffer as Sehwag scored boundaries off whatever length he bowled. He gave away 36 in three overs.
Harbhajan came on at the end of the Powerplays with Delhi at 60 for 1. He kept it tight by mixing flighted deliveries with flatter and sharper ones but it didn't help as Sehwag and Gambhir instead picked the boundaries from the other end. Gambhir played Abhishek Nayar's shorter deliveries to the fine leg and midwicket boundaries while Sehwag hit a half-volley over the bowler's head for a six. After ten overs Delhi were 93 for 1 in contrast to Mumbai, who were 72 for 3 at the same stage.
Gambhir finally fell in the 12th over, again walking down the track but mistiming a loft to a diving Mohammad Ashraful at third man. But by then the required run-rate had come down to under seven an over, mostly owing to the wides conceded by Sanath Jayasuriya. Tillakaratne Dilshan waited only two balls before going for the big shot. He hooked a slower ball by Malinga to deep backward square leg for six. Jayasuriya further pulled down the asking rate to less than six, this time owing to Sehwag who made room to hit him for four over extra cover and a six over long-on. Dilshan stuck into Malinga in the next and overs 12 to 14 cost Mumbai a whopping 39. Sehwag got his fifty immediately after that but the two batsmen fell off successive balls to Harbhajan.
There were some tense moments for Delhi after that. Harbhajan gave away only three and JP Duminy two. Harbhajan came back to pick up AB de Villiers and Rajat Bhatia off successive balls as well. de Villiers was caught at midwicket trying to flick him for a six and Bhatia misread an offbreak and was bowled for 2. At the end of that over, Delhi needed 12 off 18, with four wickets in hand. Amit Mishra ensured they needed only three of those balls, hitting Duminy for a six and a four, and Mumbai ended their IPL campaign at No.7, after having being a semi-final contender at one point.
However their batsmen, led by Ajinkya Rahane, had given them a chance to end on a positive note. Rahane began attacking after the Powerplay overs and added 73 with Sachin Tendulkar. Bhatia, bowling his slow-medium stuff, had sent down four tight balls and a wide before Tendulkar messed up the over with two beautifully executed fours. He late-cut the first to the third-man boundary and drove the next straight past the bowler to long-on. After the strategy break, the two took advantage of Mishra's poor length and scored 15 off his third over. Even after Tendulkar fell, Rahane kept the scoreboard ticking and got to his second half-century of the season from 37 balls. Mumbai scored 56 off the last five overs but Delhi's batsmen came in to form and spoiled their farewell.
Nishi Narayanan is a staff writer at Cricinfo