Gautam Gambhir leads from the front
In his first match as IPL captain, Gautam Gambhir followed up inspired moves in the field with an old-fashioned innings full of sensible strokeplay to save a glittering batting line-up the blushes in a straightforward chase of 143 on a flat pitch. It was thanks to disconcerting bowling from Dirk Nannes and timely big wickets for Farveez Maharoof that Delhi were chasing a paltry total, but Gambhir had to counter the regularly falling wickets and rising required rate to take his team home.
Sreesanth swung the ball beautifully, taking out Virender Sehwag and Tillakaratne Dilshan in his first over, and gave away just 15 in his first spell of three overs. While sizeable contributions from the other end didn't arrive, Gambhir was not going to contribute to Punjab's cause. He ran hard, hit only one shot in the air before the six in the 19th over, never let the required rate reach unmanageable proportions, and got out with only three runs required. The main feature of the innings was the cut shot: the bat face opened at just the right time, at just the right angle, playing around with the point and third-man fieldsmen.
From 10 for 2 he took Delhi to 45 for 3 with AB de Villiers for company, and to 79 for 4 with Dinesh Karthik. By the time Karthik fell, Gambhir had paced himself to 37 off 34, but 64 required off 46 was just about entering the tricky territory. In the next over, though, Gambhir took 15 runs off five Ramesh Powar deliveries to turn the game Delhi's way. Nine of those came off shots either side of deep point.
In the field too, he persisted with Farveez Maharoof despite his 18-run fourth over. When Ravi Bopara and Irfan Pathan threatened a comeback, he introduced Tillakaratne Dilshan and got a wicket immediately.