Delhi Daredevils, inspired by AB de Villiers’ superbly-paced century, held their nerve in the field to beat Chennai Super Kings in the first close game of IPL 2. de Villiers’ century, the first of the tournament, came after Delhi’s innings started in catastrophe and powered them to the highest total this season. Matthew Hayden charged a stiff chase with another aggressive innings and Suresh Raina’s cool head kept Chennai on par with the asking rate, but Delhi won the battle of the death overs to sneak a thriller. Leading, expectedly, was the parsimonious Daniel Vettori who, after striking after the seven-and-a-half minute tactical break, bowled a decisive penultimate over.
This was a win fashioned with the bat. Tillakaratne Dilshan and de Villiers added 68 at a frenetic clip after Delhi were struggling at 8 for 2 with Gautam Gambhir - out to the very economical L Balaji first ball - and Virender Sehwag - pulling needlessly - out early. Dilshan started like a man with a train to catch, slashing five fours and two sixes in his first 15 balls. Taking a cue from de Villiers, who pulled Manpreet Gony for an easy six over midwicket, Dilshan picked the same bowler off his pads for six. Then he welcomed Albie Morkel into the attack by thumping three successive boundaries in a 17-run over. Dilshan slashed Andrew Flintoff over slip and then pulled him for a flat six. Fourty-five had been crashed off three overs and Dilshan’s fifty took 24 balls. He fell slapping a full toss to extra cover.
While Dilshan was going berserk, de Villiers looked briefly like he was at the wrong party, simply scurrying down the other end with open-faced steers behind square. But once Dilshan departed de Villiers had to play host. The pattern of scoring changed from boundaries to nudges, flicks and cuts to third man. It appeared, as Chennai sneaked in 29 boundary-less deliveries and Balaji returned to dismiss Dinesh Karthik, that Delhi may have squandered Dilshan’s platform.
Then Morkel drop a sitter off de Villiers the ball after he had raised his half-century and all hell broke loose. Clearing his front leg and relying on amazing hand-eye contact de Villiers thumped three sixes and three fours before clipping his 51st delivery to raise an amazing century. His second fifty needed just 19 balls.
It was a power-packed innings, highlighted by de Villiers’ stunning assault in the last four overs: nothing matched the 20 he smashed in four successive balls off Flintoff. The fifth-wicket stand between de Villiers and Manoj Tiwary was worth 74 in 5.5 overs, Tiwary’s contribution being nine.
Chasing the highest target set this season, Chennai needed something special. Hayden sparked it, with ten in the first over of the chase. Ashish Nehra looked like a man who hadn’t played international standard opposition in months, dragging the ball short to allow a pumped Hayden clip runs through midwicket. Avishkar Salvi struggled to locate his line - either serving full or dropping short - and Hayden merrily ransacked him to the leg side in a 24-run over. Hayden raised his fifty from 22 balls.
Domination led to his dismissal and gave the impressive Pradeep Sangwan his second wicket. Having got Parthiv Patel driving to de Villiers at cover with a full one, Sangwan opted for a shorter length and Hayden miscued a pull to the deep.
At the half-way mark Chennai were 106 for 2, well on track thanks to Hayden. Vettori varied his pace and length to stifle MS Dhoni and drew a nick through to Karthik. Suresh Raina kept the flame burning with another gem - finding the boundary every over - before he sent a Sangwan full toss down long-on’s throat for a 27-ball 41. Sangwan bowled well and picked up three wickets.
It was still anyone’s game with Flintoff at the crease, 42 needed and Nehra called back for the 16th over. Flintoff worked a single, Morkel clipped four, but when Flintoff got back on strike Nehra forced him to hole out to long-off.
Salvi returned to bowl a five-run 17th over but thanks to Chennai’s good work the asking rate was under ten. It was nerve-racking as both teams battled for a decisive edge. Nehra kept it very full and straight, Karthik missed a run out, Morkel survived another tight over. With 24 needed from 12 Sehwag tossed the ball back to Vettori, who immediately dismissed a sluggish S Badrinath. Vettori’s over included a six by Gony and a run out to set pulses soaring, but by then the match had been decided. David Warner may not have gotten a game yet but he made his presence felt with two catches in the deep and a direct hit in the last over. A chase that had started with power ended in a panic.
Three overseas stars showed there was more to Delhi than Sehwag and Gambhir, further indication that this is the team to beat in the IPL.
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Friday, April 24th, 2009 and is filed under Cricket.
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