Victorian bowlers set up easy victory
A similar story to yesterday's panned out at the Feroz Shah Kotla, with another Indian team failing to capitalise on home conditions and crowd support. Delhi Daredevils - under new captain Gautam Gambhir - were comprehensively beaten by Victoria, for whom Clint McKay led a devastating seam attack, in the opening match of Group D.
The win capped off a remarkable day for the Australian participants, after New South Wales pummelled the Eagles a few hours earlier at the same venue.
Delhi had been left to look like outsiders against an attack that was relentless on a track with consistently uneven bounce, and which made run-scoring quite problematic. Gambhir had not bargained for such a dismal showing after choosing to bat and Delhi just managed to scrape past the second-lowest Twenty20 score at this venue, recorded by the Eagles earlier.
The signs that a devil might just be in the pitch were first seen in the third over. The ball from Shane Harwood kept low, Gambhir was slow in getting his bat down in time and his off stump went cartwheeling.
Virender Sehwag attempted to stamp his authority at home by smashing boundaries off successive Harwood deliveries, but was superbly caught and bowled by McKay in his first over off a mistimed shot on the leg side. McKay followed it up by getting Owais Shah caught behind for a duck.
The Victorian fielders were always alert, keeping the batsmen on their toes. A moment of indecision from Tillakaratne Dilshan had Dinesh Karthik scrambling for safety at the bowler's end. Cameron White swooped in from cover and threw it back to Andrew McDonald, who took the bails off in a flash.
The situation called for Dilshan to play the anchor role and he was relatively sedate till the 16th over, when McKay - who seemed to be enjoying the conditions - lured him out and removed his off stump. Mithun Manhas tried to make the most of his run-out reprieve, but a suspected hamstring injury did not augur well for Delhi and Harwood broke through his defences to send him back for 25. McDonald capped off a superb display by castling Bhatia and Sangwan in the final over. However, there was more disappointment in store for the partisan crowd.
If there were any doubts about the pitch during and after Delhi's innings, Rob Quiney settled them in style. Dirk Nannes, bowling to his state team-mates, was handed no favours, as Quiney belted the ball past him to the mid-on boundary. Nannes' new-ball partner Ashish Nehra fared no better and was carted for a four and a six in his third over. With 32 on the board in the fifth over, Delhi were in a state of panic and bewilderment.
The introduction of legspinner Amit Mishra did not prove fruitful immediately, with Quiney attacking him from the start. Mishra was dispatched for six over long-on in his very first over, and the second and third deliveries of his next over disappeared for ten runs. Mishra persisted with flight and bowled Quiney next ball, the batsman failing to connect while trying to work to the leg side.
Brad Hodge, who had been watching the pyrotechnics from the other end, was cleaned up by Dilshan two balls later, but with Victoria racing to 55 for 2 in the ninth over, Delhi needed a pre-Diwali miracle. Dilshan and Mishra, bowling in tandem, managed to stifle the runs but Victoria had been delivered a productive start, and could afford to sit back.
Even Rajat Bhatia's dismissal of David Hussey with a slower one did little to instill confidence in Gambhir to try out Pradeep Sangwan's left-arm seam. It didn't make much difference, for Aiden Blizzard ended the innings on a high, smashing Bhatia for a six over long-on.
Judhajit Basu is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo