Tait's misery, and a needless time-out
Plays of the Day from the IPL fixture between Delhi Daredevils and Rajasthan Royals in Delhi
Early signs were that Rajasthan Royals were on going to have their task cut out. Shane Warne again opted to start the innings with Yusuf Pathan's offspin, and Virender Sehwag thumped a six and four to get the crowd going. In the second over, bowled by Sumit Narwal, the previous game's centurion David Warner was dropped on 1 by Siddharth Trivedi at mid-on. Warne then gave the ball to Adam Voges for some left-arm spin and Sehwag smacked two boundaries.
How quickly the tables turn
A high-octane fourth over snapped Delhi's momentum. Narwal had his revenge first ball of the next over when beat Warner's bat with a lovely yorker. Immediately, he set off in wild and understandably animated celebrations, sort of like what Monty Panesar used to do in his days playing for England, only minus the goofy leap and inability to connect palms with the nearest fielder. Two balls later the bowler was again buzzing all over the place after Sehwag top-edged a skier to deep square leg.
Ojha to the rescue
During the aforementioned double-wicket over, the Rajasthan wicketkeeper Naman Ojha's alertness saved his side five runs. Gautam Gambhir charged Narwal and got an inside edge. The ball beat Ojha and was headed at the helmet placed a few yards behind him, but he turned and sprinted after it, then dived forward to stop it hitting the helmet. Talk about a speedy recovery.
Colly's gotta go
Start as you mean to go on, goes the old adage. That's just what Paul Collingwood tried to do after Delhi were jolted by the loss of their dynamic openers. He made excellent contact to the first ball faced, pulling Shaun Tait for six, and followed up with two boundaries. With a strike-rate of 200, Collingwood was run out by some excellent fielding. Gambhir struck the ball to Voges' right at point, but Collingwood was hesitant initially and a late reaction sent him packing. After a blazing start, Collingwood had problems switching gears and was out for 16 from eight balls.
A much-needed over
Delhi's innings had been deprived of momentum from the start, and just when an excellent stand was shaping to explode, Gambhir was dismissed to leave the hosts at 148 for 6 after 17 overs. Enter Shaun Tait, who Warne said at the toss had been eager to really flatten Delhi with his pace. Who was left deflated was evident after the over, which cost 20. Tait began with a beamer that flew away for five runs, and a well-set Dinesh Karthik carted the last three deliveries for boundaries.
All hot air
Tait's evening finished with him becoming the proud owner of the most expensive spell in this IPL. Andrew McDonald hit the first ball for four, and Karthik dumped the fifth for six. But off the ball before, Karthik had refused a single to cover. It transpired that Tait had said something to Karthik, and clearly the batsman had something to respond with. Tait did pick up a wicket with the final ball of the innings, but with figures of 1 for 53, out of which Karthik scored 27, it was evident who had bragging rights.
Delhi's assistant coach Eric Simons rates Sarabjit Ladda, the legspinner drafted into the squad this season, as a real talent. Ladda hasn't returned that praise with a bag of wickets so far, but he used his right arm to good affect. Voges clipped a slower ball past midwicket but some hesitancy saw him shoo back Abhishek Jhunjhunwala after he was a ways down for the second. Ladda, having sprinted across in the deep, returned a sharp and flat throw to Karthik who broke the sticks with Jhunjhunwala well short of his crease.
Time-out or time waste?
Just what was the point in taking the two-and-a-half-minute strategic break after 16 overs of Rajasthan's woeful chase? At the juncture the game was done and dusted with the visitors on 111 for 8 and needing 78 runs from 24 balls. There was nothing strategic happening in the middle during the time-out, apart from a few swigs of coolant, a dab of the towel here and there, and a punch of the gloves.
What possibly could Tait have been told - to try and make up some of the 53 runs he'd bled with the ball? Two balls after the interval and Ladda had Paras Dogra stumped. Chalk that down to a good ole'-fashioned swing-and-miss rather than the result of any strategy. The IPL needs to reconsider this policy in one-sided matches such as this.
Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo