Virender Sehwag showcased his class on a tricky surface on which numerous deliveries hardly got up above ankle height, exploding in the end to lift Delhi Daredevils to 157, a score that proved beyond Kochi Tuskers Kerala
Virender Sehwag showcased his class on a tricky Nehru Stadium surface on which numerous deliveries hardly got up above ankle height. Sehwag took his time before exploding in the end to lift Delhi Daredevils to 157, a score that proved beyond Kochi Tuskers Kerala and breathed some life in to Delhi's doddering campaign. In a knock that must surely go down as one of the best IPL innings, Sehwag smashed 49 off his last 15 deliveries to surge to 80 off 47, on a wicket where even survival was an achievement for batsmen.
Smarting from the big defeat against Deccan Chargers on a green-tinged home pitch, Kochi went to the opposite spectrum of surface preparation, dishing out a dry and loose wicket on which the ball kept alarmingly low right from the start. But they ran in to a determined Sehwag who, quickly realising that his usual cavalier style was not going to work, changed his approach, playing as safely as a Sehwag can.
The surface had come under scrutiny at the toss when Sehwag voiced doubts over it, saying the top surface was coming loose when someone walked on the wicket. Right away, the first ball from Sreesanth, in the second over, hardly got above David Warner's shin, and disturbed his off stump as he was caught clueless on the back foot. The fourth ball just rolled along the ground after pitching on a length, catching Naman Ojha on the boot in front of leg stump as Sehwag watched incredulously from the non-striker's end.
Delhi's innings was built around a 56-run stand between Yogesh Nagar and Sehwag after Venugopal Rao fell to leave them at 35 for 3 in the seventh over. The extent to which Sehwag reined himself in was evident when Delhi went without a boundary for 38 balls. It was Nagar who ended the drought when he launched R Vinay Kumar past extra cover in the 12th over.
Sehwag, who was on a scarcely believable 31 off 32, broke free in the next over, slamming Ravindra Jadeja for consecutive sixes over long-off and deep midwicket. On a pitch where batsmen were finding it difficult to hang in, Sehwag toyed with the bowling. The shots that had been put away came out in a torrent of calculated hitting. It rained pulls, whips, inside-out lofts, late cuts on a hapless Kochi attack. Vinay Kumar disappeared for 15 in the 15th over, B Akhil was scattered for 18 in the next.
Sehwag's complete control over his craft was on display against Ramesh Powar. Even as the offspinner tossed the ball up, Sehwag found time to dance down the track and lift him effortlessly against the turn over extra cover. His dismissal in the next over off Vinay was also characteristic, caught at deep extra cover on the edge of the rope, going inside out with three men in front of square on the off side boundary. But his charge lifted Delhi to 157, after they had been 62 for 3 in the 13th over.
Shell-shocked Kochi's only chance on the treacherous wicket was if their top order came good, but it wasn't to be. The pitch didn't play a major role in the first two dismissals though. IPL debutant Michael Klinger flicked Morne Morkel only for Roelof van der Merwe, in for the injured James Hopes, to pull off a blinder at square leg. Two deliveries later, Brendon McCullum decided that the only way to tackle the unpredictable surface was the blind charge, and lost his middle stump to Irfan Pathan.
Parthiv Patel found just how difficult the track was, as a back-of-a-length Pathan delivery barely rose a foot, easily going under his defensive push and disturbing off stump. As a disgusted Parthiv walked off in a volley of expletives, it was left to Kochi's two most-experienced batsmen, Mahela Jayawardene and Brad Hodge, to salvage the chase from 28 for 3.
Jayawardene hung around for a while but it was always going to be difficult to get more than eight an over on such a wicket. In trying to whip Ajit Agarkar over midwicket, he spooned a tame catch to Sehwag when on 18. Hodge could not capitalise on a dropped chance by Pathan on 15 and his dismissal by Morne Morkel in the 14th over effectively ended Kochi's chances though a few hits from Ravindra Jadeja reduced the margin of defeat.