ICL: Indian Cricket League

Punjab edge a rain-reduced game


Not even 20 overs were bowled but there was no shortage of excitement and drama as Kings XI Punjab inched closer to a semi-final spot with a win that was sealed - in a somewhat chaotic finish to a rain-shortened game - with a six off the final ball. The result left Delhi Daredevils, who made the early running in the tournament, with ten points from 11 games and a fight to make the last four.

Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir delighted the home crowd at the Feroz Shah Kotla with some fireworks before the first rain interruption but it was the unbroken 63-run stand, off just 27 balls, between Mahela Jayawardene and Luke Pomersbach that clinched the match for Punjab under the Duckworth-Lewis rules as another spell of rain brought about a premature finish.

The two had added 51 in just three overs to turn a precarious position into one of strength, before Sehwag handed allrounder Rajat Bhatia the eighth over. Bhatia, mixing up the pace, drastically brought down the scoring in his first five deliveries. With the rain beginning to come down, Punjab, after 7.5, were at 88 for 3 and, had another dot ball followed, the scores would have been tied under the D/L method. Jayawardene, though, seized the situation, and a shorter ball was put over deep midwicket for six. With the showers intensifying, the umpires called for the covers, and after a bit of confusion, the match was called off, with Punjab picking up their seventh win in eight games.

Sehwag would repent the over he bowled in the chase, in which he conceded 22, but perhaps the result would have been different had rain not interrupted his innings. He had decided to bat after a light drizzle delayed the start, and along with Gambhir powered Delhi to a blistering start, scoring 68 off the Powerplay overs, though they were lucky not to fall early. Yuvraj Singh spilled a sitter as Sehwag got a top edge off Sreesanth in the third over, and two balls later, Gautam Gambhir got a thick outside edge, but VRV Singh was slow off the blocks at third man.

Gambhir provided the early momentum, making room against Irfan Pathan to send the ball racing through the off side. He was fortunate that a few mistimed shots managed to stay clear of the fielders. Sehwag, who had been getting a thin share of the strike, carted consecutive sixes off VRV Singh through the off side, before he steered a fuller delivery wide of the keeper to make it 22 for the over.

Ramesh Powar was brought in after the Powerplays, and he castled Gambhir. That didn’t deter Sehwag, who smashed a four and six in Piyush Chawla’s first over, then stepped out against Powar and deposited him over midwicket, before rain halted Delhi’s innings at 94 for 1 after 8.1 overs.

A long interval followed. Sehwag, on 47 off 19, appeared to have lost his touch on resumption, as Delhi came out with the intention to clear the boundaries with the innings reduced to 11 overs. They lost wickets in a flurry, and strong winds didn’t aid batting either. James Hopes bowled an exceptional final over, giving away just three, and Sehwag had crawled after the resumption, managing just four off seven deliveries.

Punjab were chasing a revised target of 123, but a charged-up fielding effort from Delhi had them in trouble. Shikhar Dhawan and Shoaib Malik both got under a skier from the in-form Shaun Marsh, before Dhawan managed to hold on after avoiding a collision. Glenn McGrath had given away just three in the first over, but Yuvraj, who had delightfully steered Pradeep Sangwan to the leg-side boundary before making room and depositing one in the off-side stands, hit him for consecutive sixes. It seemed to be a captains’ day out but Yuvraj mistimed a pull off a slower ball, and unlike Punjab’s sloppy efforts in the field, Delhi’s fielders managed to take some stunning catches.

Amit Mishra, the legspinner, removed Hopes soon after, and Punjab were left needing 90 off 42. Then Sehwag came on and the match turned. Jayawardene, who hadn’t made much of an impact in the tournament, deftly guided one past short third man, before reverse-sweeping to beat the same fielder. Another swept four and a Pomersbach six had Punjab’s innings up and running again, and two sixes were hit in Mishra’s next. Pomersbach’s six off Farveez Maharoof brought up the fifty stand off just 19 balls, and the final blow from Jayawardene left Delhi with a sinking feeling.

Source:Cricket News

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