Gautam Gambhir and Shikhar Dhawan laid out the carpet and Glenn McGrath, returning the best figures in the IPL's brief history, walked over it as the Delhi Daredevils got themselves back on track after a blip in their last game. It wasn't a comfortable win, as the Bangalore Royal Challengers kept them to 191 for 5 when 205 seemed an easy total and later when Jacques Kallis and Rahul Dravid threatened to chase it down, but another choke from the visiting side - who for the third game running left Misbah-ul-Haq on the bench - put Delhi at second in the points table.
The Feroz Shah Kotla track wasn't known for any major assistance to seam or swing and Dravid's decision to field on a sluggish surface with variable bounce ultimately turned out to be a mistake. After a quiet first over, Gambhir waded into the Bangalore attack in stunning fashion. First he took Zaheer Khan for three fours, a delectable square cut tucked between two shots off the pads, and then hit Dale Steyn for a couple more. Virender Sehwag hit a few lusty shots before he was run out for a 12-ball 24, but Gambhir applied himself excellently.
Scoring wasn't easy given the low bounce but shuffling and waiting for the ball to come onto him - there were certain shots that had to be checked as the ball stopped on him - he slashed boundaries backward of point and pulled through the infield.
With Dhawan very solid at one end, and consciously playing the ball along the ground, Gambhir backed his judgment of the track to slash boundaries backward of square both sides. Bangalore pulled back the scoring for a couple overs but Sunil Joshi, replacing Anil Kumble, had a torrid first over that went for 19 as both batsmen picked up sixes. Dhawan, upright and packing his drvies with power, scored at a very healthy clip. A massive slog off Kallis took him to 49, and he looked set to press on after his fifty but a stunning catch from Dravid at midwicket cut him short.
Steyn and Kallis rattled the stumps to check Delhi's middle order and, having lost strike for a brief while, Gambhir slogged Zaheer to midwicket for 86 from 54 balls. Delhi were on target for over 200 but those strikes left them short.
They may have been a tad disappointed by not going further but with McGrath leading a tidy pace they backed themselves. The maestro, bowling as metronimically as he did in his pomp, needed five deliveries to remove Praveen Kumar, flicking to midwicket, but his double-wicket third over was massive: Ross Taylor's gung-ho approached ended in a top-edge to deep midwicket and Wasim Jaffer did the same to mid-on.
From 48 for 3 after five overs Dravid and Kallis, with near 20,000 Test runs between them, added 87 in 10.3 overs. Yo Mahesh and Rajat Bhatia went for 26 in two overs through classy, low-risk shots before pumped sixes lowered the asking rate further. Kallis went past his previous IPL best, mostly with shuffled flicks, and Bangalore needed 58 with seven wickets and 30 balls remaining. That's when Sehwag tossed the ball back to McGrath. Three balls later Dravid was walking back for 38, his slog into the starry night setting into Sehwag's palms at mid-on. McGrath finished with 4 for 29, a special and memorable effort.
Kallis thumped himself past fifty but a fourth miserly over from another one-day international master, Daniel Vettori, effectively killed all hopes. Vettori allowed just five singles and cleaned up Kallis with a quick arm ball off the sixth. That left Bangalore with 30 to win from six balls and it proved too much for Mark Boucher, who still hit two sixes and a four.
Eleven out of 16 matches have been won by sides chasing but Bangalore failed to master two crafty bowlers when it mattered most. Delhi, despite the departure of Vettori, remain one of the better sides in the tournament.