It was a hot day and the heat got to Delhi Daredevils, who turned in a frenzied and frustrating performance against Kings XI Punjab. The run-outs of Gautam Gambhir and David Warner in the space of three deliveries hurt the hosts, but the rest of the innings suffered because of a failure to assess what was needed on a tough pitch.
Applying the squeeze: From the time he cut the first ball of the match, from offspinner Ramesh Powar, for four, David Warner wanted to dominate. As a destructive Twenty20 opener, it's what he does. However, he didn't have a back-up plan against Powar, whose gagging tactics with the new ball worked. Powar persisted with a leg-stump line to the left-hand batsman, inducing false strokes from impatient charges. Flight followed by spin had Warner stretching forward, pushing and missing. The zip and extra bounce Powar generated off the pitch didn't allow Warner to cut without risk. After that first four, Warner relied solely on the cut and was beaten off the last two balls of the opening over. His frustration was evident.
A big turn off: Paul Collingwood and Daniel Vettori had extended net sessions against spin during training yesterday. Whatever they learned facing Amit Mishra in the nets, however, didn't bear fruit in the middle because both failed to read Piyush Chawla's spin. Collingwood went back instead of forward, when the ball was staying low and was trapped plumb in front, and not too long after it was Vettori who committed the same mistake. Chawla pitched the ball on middle and Vettori went back, presumably to play the legbreak, but was outfoxed by the googly.
Not relying solely on the bounce and slowness of the track, Chawla introduced a surprise element: sharp turn. The batsmen were perplexed, their frailties exposed. And when the ball didn't spin and went straight on, the results were all too similar. Chawla utilised the bowler's footmarks but mostly it was the curator's generosity that he manipulated. Batsmen were frustrated when they cut and missed, inside-edged uncertain prods and swept with hard hands to fielders.
Failing to adapt: The pitch wasn't conducive to Twenty20 strokeplay, for it played slow and low and offered generous turn. However, it wasn't a minefield and, with a bit of application, Delhi's batsmen would have fared better. There will be more such days when the ball does a bit off the track and batsmen cannot thump every ball to the boundary. A feature of the matches played at the Kotla during the Champions League Twenty20 last year was how well the Australians adjusted difficult surfaces. Simon Katich, Phil Hughes and Rob Quiney contributed match-winning innings from the top three spots while under pressure. The Sri Lankan Michael Vandort also played one from No. 3 during Wayamba's 15-run win over Victoria in another low-scorer contest, and Eagles opener Riley Roussow was forced to reassess his horizontal-bat tactics. He still produced a crucial 62-ball 65 in a tense winover Sussex. Delhi's former overseas signing Owais Shah also judged the conditions while compiling a match-winning unbeaten 39 from 38 balls, after the hosts were 46 for 4, against Cape Cobras. What these innings did was strengthen the purist's theory that playing orthodox cricket is more beneficial than all the innovative fireworks of the Twenty20 format. Today, none of Delhi's batsman appeared to have an alternative to stand-and-deliver.
No wickets in the bank: On this pitch a total of 140 would have been challenging but Delhi failed to achieve that because they lost too many wickets. With no clear solution for a flagging run-rate, attack seemed the apt riposte. Apt but not effective, as Dinesh Karthik realised. When Irfan Pathan began the 14th over, Delhi had five wickets left. Karthik, on 17, didn't wait to see what the bowler had to offer. He hung on the back foot and thumped the first ball straight to long-off. At the start of the 16th over Farveez Maharoof - no mug with the bat and certainly better than a No. 9 - shoved the bat at his first delivery and was bowled. Delhi hadn't preserved enough resources to even attempt a late charge.