Sehwag powers Delhi to convincing victory
A disciplined performance by the Delhi Daredevils bowlers and a blistering innings from Virender Sehwag inflicted on Rajasthan Royals their second defeat in as many games. A battling half-century from Abhishek Jhunjhunwala lent Rajasthan's total some respectability but it was a woefully inadequate one to defend given Sehwag's onslaught.
Rajasthan were made to regret their poor batting in the first over of the chase, as Sehwag blazed away, swinging Dimitri Mascarehnas over square leg and mid-on for two boundaries. The seamers bowled either too full or offered him the desired width to break free - Shaun Tait was cut fiercely through point, and Munaf Patel was dispatched over long-off for a six and past mid-on for a boundary in the third over.
There were a couple of moments of hope for Rajasthan. Mascarenhas returned in the fourth over to snare Gautam Gambhir, who mistimed a slower one to mid-on, and got one to move away to produce an outside edge from Tillakaratne Dilshan the next ball. The wickets made no difference to Sehwag's approach - nor, ultimately, to Rajasthan's fortunes - as he skied Mascarenhas when on 41 only to be dropped by Tait while running back from short fine leg - another low on what's so far been a poor IPL for the Australian.
Having smote Mascarenhas for 10 runs off two deliveries, Sehwag proceeded to target Amit Uniyal's medium-pacers, walloping him for six over long-off, upper-cutting him wide of third man to reach his half-century and striking through the line of a length delivery to dispatch it over long-on. The parting shot before being caught brilliantly by Graeme Smith at mid-on was a thunderous six over the bowler's head; Delhi were 99 for 3 when he fell in the 10th over, and Dinesh Karthik, with the luxury of a set platform, saw his team through.
Rajasthan, who wore black arm-bands in memory of the victims of a bus accident in Sawai Madhopur district, had begun positively after Gambhir had put them in. But they were dented by a testing first spell from Dirk Nannes and the early introduction of Amit Mishra, leaving an inexperienced middle order to contend with a determined display from the rest of Delhi's bowlers who gave little opportunity to open up.
The conditions in Ahmedabad were hardly favourable with the dust from the parking lots surrounding the stadium kicking in, and adding to the haze from the floodlights. The surge of moths, flying across the pitch as well as the outfield, proved another irritant.
Swapnil Asnodkar and Smith, cashing in on some overpitched bowling from Farveez Maharoof, smacked two boundaries off the first three balls of the match. Nannes, like against Kings XI Punjab, continued to trouble the batsmen with his ability to generate bounce, even from bowling on a good length. He got rid of Asnodkar with his second delivery, which was sliced towards Dilshan who took a good low catch, and followed up with two snorters to Naman Ojha, one striking him on the shoulder.
Ojha, who had some success while opening the batting for Rajasthan in the previous IPL, resumed the attack after a momentary lull, thrashing Maharoof over mid-on and edging him over the slips. He reserved special treatment for Mishra, brought on in the fourth over, cutting and sweeping him for two boundaries and launching him into the stands over long-on. But Mishra undid him with his first variation of the over, slipping in the googly to bowl him through the gate as he tried to loft him over the covers.
With Yusuf Pathan lasting just five deliveries, failing to pick a slower delivery and holing out to long-on, and the experienced Smith following soon after to make it 50 for 4, Rajasthan were starting at a bleak prospect.
Paras Dogra, who had partnered Yusuf during his ruthless ton against Mumbai, and Jhunjhunwala, returning from the ICL, saw off a quiet phase during a nagging couple of overs from Pradeep Sangwan and Sarabjit Ladda; Rajasthan, at one stage, had played out 38 deliveries without a boundary. Replacing Yo Mahesh, Ladda varied his pace well, often surprising the batsmen with the quicker delivery but had his figures disturbed when the pair had stepped up, both hammering him for two sixes in a 17-run over.
Delhi saw to it they didn't give too much away, with the run-outs of Dogra and Mascarenhas in successive overs. Jhunjhunwala, though, struck two boundaries off Nannes in the final over, reaching his fifty, to give his bowler's more than an outside chance. Sehwag, however, ensured it was washed away.
Siddhartha Talya is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo