A clinical Delhi Daredevils recorded an eight-wicket win to bump their opponents, Chennai Super Kings, off the No. 1 spot and end Mahendra Singh Dhoni's 100% record at the IPL. The match was effectively decided by a century stand inside 12 overs between Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir after Chennai's innings floundered in the absence of their Australian batting stars.
Unlike Chennai's top order, which relied on wild and often mistimed shots to get boundaries, Gambhir and Sehwag scored in masterful fashion. In their partnerships, even in Tests, the two sometimes look like they have a private bet running on who can score faster. Today Sehwag won it hands down as he raced to his fifty off 24 balls.
With net run-rate deciding league positions, Sehwag wasted no time in teeing off the chase at the venue of his recent triple-century. He slashed Makhaya Ntini for a six off the fourth ball of the innings and followed it up the next over with two more off Manpreet Gony. Joginder Sharma was taken for 19 runs in his first over as Sehwag hit a six and two fours. He fell, when 55 were needed off 52 balls, trying to replicate his first six.
Gambhir may have looked subdued in comparison to Sehwag but he was in a mood to attack as well. He drove and pulled with the confidence that Chennai's batsmen lacked. The two openers offered few chances and never seemed to be in doubt of how to pierce the field.
Chennai clearly missed the power and experience of Matthew Hayden and Michael Hussey, who'd scored nearly a third of the team's runs in the tournament before this game. Barring S Vidyut's half-century, no other innings was memorable. In fact Vidyut's innings was full of unintentional shots - one, in the 10th over, was a pull edged off Asif that sailed over the keeper for four - and it was largely memorable because it was his debut.
Credit must go to Delhi's bowlers, though, who bounced back impressively after the initial assault and prevented Chennai from posting a more challenging total. If not for Albie Morkel's late charge, Chennai would have struggled to get a par score.
Between overs 12 and 16, Delhi conceded only 31 runs as Mohammad Asif, Glenn McGrath and Vijaykumar Yo Mahesh bowled fuller and cut out Dhoni's attempts to step out of the crease and attack. Yo Mahesh, who had conceded two free-hits before bowling Stephen Fleming in his first over, conceded only one run in his final over. Virender Sehwag shuffled his bowlers about - giving Asif only one over in his opening spell - and with all his fast bowlers having finished their quotas, he tossed the ball to Rajat Bhatia for the final over. Bhatia, who hadn't bowled in the innings so far, impressed as he conceded only 11.
Delhi have not been greatly affected by the exodus of international players - they have lost only Daniel Vettori - and, with a third of the league done, they will fancy their chances of staying at the top of the points table.