Gambhir toils for hard-fought victory
20 overs Delhi Daredevils 113 for 4 (Gambhir 57*, Bollinger 2-24) beat Chennai Super Kings 112 for 9 (Badrinath 30*, Nehra 3-26, Sehwag 2-18) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Chennai Super Kings were restricted to their lowest total of the season at the MA Chidambaran stadium, and yet they threatened to defend it. On a pitch that offered bounce and sharp turn Delhi Daredevils lost three wickets for a song before Gautam Gambhir and Mithun Manhas batted with determination, fighting dehydration, to secure a valuable victory. It wasn't until 17.1 overs that Delhi's run-rate touched six for the first time in the chase and they overhauled 112 with eight balls to spare.
Delhi had lost to Punjab on a similar surface at home, although the Kotla surface was slower, and they had to contend with the humidity of Chennai as well after MS Dhoni chose to bat. However, their fast bowlers Ashish Nehra and Dirk Nannes, back after a finger injury, made vital incisions into the Chennai line-up, an advantage their spinners capitalised on. Chennai were 39 for 3 after the Powerplay, 55 for 6 after ten overs, and only an eleventh-hour boost propped them past three figures. Doug Bollinger hit the only six of the innings - in the 18th over - and it turned out to be the only one of the match.
The chase was anything but straightforward. David Warner slapped his second ball, from offspinner R Ashwin, to cover and Bollinger dismissed Virender Sehwag - Hayden leaping at slip to take the catch overhead - and Tillakaratne Dilshan in the second over. Chants of "Bollinger, Bollinger" resonated around the ground and he left Delhi reeling at 7 for 3.
The first boundary came in the third over when, after four consecutive dot balls, Gambhir charged Ashwin and edged past slip. The next came in the fifth, when a ripping offbreak snuck through Dinesh Karthik's bat-pad gap and past Dhoni for four byes. The third in the sixth over, when Karthik flicked Bollinger through midwicket - the first commanding shot of the innings. Karthik fell soon after, though, miscuing a pull in Shadab Jakati's first over to midwicket, leaving Delhi on 38 for 4.
Delhi held Paul Collingwood back and sent in Manhas, who provided his captain sensible support. Gambhir, run out thrice in his last four innings, was steely: there were no ambitious shots and he played the ball late, cutting and glancing for ones and twos. The humidity was getting to him, running between the wickets became increasingly hard, but Gambhir ensured the asking-rate never touched six until late in the innings.
Slowly but surely Gambhir and Manhas steered Delhi to safety. Manhas released pressure by cutting L Balaji and pulling Ashwin for fours before Gambhir hit a brace of boundaries off Raina to end Chennai's challenge. He pulled Bollinger for four in the 18th over to bring up 50 off 51 balls, and victory came soon after. Gambhir and Manhas' match-winning stand of 75 had taken 11.4 overs.
Delhi's spinners, however, had provided their batsmen a sign of what was to come. They came on after the Powerplay and Dilshan, Sehwag and Amit Mishra strangled the scoring-rate with frequent wickets. Chennai slid from 52 for 3 to 55 for 6 in the space of two overs: Suresh Raina lofted Dilshan to deep cover, where Yadav ran in to judge the catch, Michael Hussey lobbed Sehwag tamely to cover, and Albie Morkel was caught at slip. Sehwag got him with a terrific delivery: it drifted into the left-hander from round the wicket, dipped, pitched on leg and middle, and spun across the face of the bat. Morkel pushed forward and the outside edge went to Collingwood at slip, who dived forward to take a low catch.
Chennai were reeling at 55 for 6 by the half-way stage, with only S Badrinath left of the specialist batsmen. The hosts managed to take 12 off the final over - 33 off the last three - to reach a total their bowlers attempted valiantly to defend, but in vain.
George Binoy is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo