Mahela Jayawardene (left) and Virender Sehwag were unstoppable on that day at Delhi © IANS
With Delhi Daredevils sinking to six consecutive defeats in as many fixtures, the team needed an inspired display to get anything out of the game against eventual champions Mumbai Indians. When Delhi needed inspiration during their Indian Premier League (IPL) 2013 campaign, needed two legends stood up and gave hope with all their class. R Vishal turns back the clock.
Delhi Daredevils’s (DD) Indian Premier League (IPL) 2013 campaign had just taken its turn for the worse. With last over finishes being the norm in T20 cricket, Delhi had got themselves in good positions in their first five games of the IPL but their fortunes plummeted to a new low during their match against Chennai Super Kings, where they were shot out for an embarrassing 83 while chasing a total of 166.
Delhi had an excellent outing the previous year, where they finished at the top of the table before bowing out in the knock-out phase of the tournament. Leading up to the 2013 season, there were bad omen. They lost two International stars in Jesse Ryder and Kevin Pietersen due to injury and their talisman at the top of the order, Virender Sehwag was restricted to the sidelines due to a back spasm.
This early setback had forced Delhi and their hapless skipper Mahela Jayawardene to experiment with their inexperienced batting line-up that led to disastrous results. India’s next big thing at the time, Unmukt Chand had a harsh tryst with reality and was sent packing for two first-ball ducks. David Warner’s match winning abilities were erratic at best and the fielding left a lot to be desired; the wheels were coming off for Delhi.
By this time Sehwag had come back into the side but looked rusty and short of match practice. Now, the Delhi unit had decided to slot in Warner at No 3 and Jayawardene had promoted himself to open with Sehwag. It was yet another tinkering effort that bordered on desperation. Bereft of answers, Delhi had even signed up the legendary Sir Viv Richards in an advisory role in the camp.
After six straight defeats, Delhi were up against Mumbai Indians, who were growing in confidence at this stage. Mumbai’s two-time World Cup winning captain Ricky Ponting decided to bat on a rather serene batting wicket in an afternoon fixture at the Feroz Shah Kotla. Roelof van der Merve, who had come back into the side, gave the home team a perfect start by scalping the wicket of Dwayne Smith. There was further damage for Mumbai in the powerplay overs with Sachin Tendulkar’s straight drive grazing bowler Umesh Yadav’s fingers to catch Dinesh Karthik short of his crease.
Karthik’s wicket brought Rohit Sharma to the crease and went after the bowling straight away. Two sixes were struck in quick succession and buoyed by his younger partner’s confidence at the crease, Tendulkar was batting freely too. The duo put on 96 for the third wicket in quick time. Tendulkar made a well crafted 54 but it was a Rohit show all the way. Some exquisite power hitting, especially off Ajit Agarkar late in the innings propelled Mumbai to a score of 161 for four, which looked good after Delhi’s fine start to the match. Rohit made 73 of only 43 balls, laden with five fours and as many sixes.
Delhi’s chase started with caution against the formidable Mumbai bowling attack in the early overs with Sehwag and Jayawardene. Sehwag was waiting for the right moment to break the shackles and rookie teenager Jaspri Bumrah’s harmless medium-pacers provided that outlet for the Nawab of Najafgarh and there was no looking back.
A smash through covers for a four was followed by a huge six over the long on ropes and Jayawardene too got on the act with majestic straight drive for four. That over had put the demons of Delhi’s wretched IPL start behind them and the veteran opening duo was plundering the bowling attack. Munaf Patel was the next in line and Jayawardene and Sehwag smashed four boundaries between them in an over.
The otherwise brilliant Lasith Malinga too wasn’t spared any mercy and fortunes had a broad smile on Delhi’s face. The pair raced to their 50-run stand in only the fifth over. Ponting tried shuffling his bowlers but it was to no avail with the batsmen looking at consummate ease. Taking much of the strike, Sehwag brought up his fifty off just 31 deliveries. The crowd was on its feet and virtually nothing could prevent the run flow. Slog sweeps, lofted cover drives and unorthodox paddle sweeps were finding the boundary ropes. Jayawardene, in typical style quietly crafted yet another half-century and was happy to let Sehwag stroke-making flourish in full cry. As for Mumbai, the decision to leave Mitchell Johnson out left them in a soup.
Even Sehwag’s India teammate Harbhajan Singh was discarded seamlessly to the boundary ropes and Delhi edged closer to the target. Malinga trapped Jayawardene in front off a peach but the damage was done. Delhi cruised home to a thumping victory to finally get a taste of victory in IPL 2013. Virender Sehwag finished on an unbeaten 95 and walked away with the Man of the Match award.
Unfortunately, the verve and panache of this facile win failed to galvanize the spirits of Delhi and won just two of their remaining eight games in the competition. Delhi recorded their worst-ever performance since the inception of the tournament to finish at the bottom of the pile.
Mumbai Indians 161 for 4 in 20 overs (Sachin Tendulkar 54, Rohit Sharma 73; Umesh Yadav 2 for 31) lost to Delhi Daredevils 165 for 1 in 17 overs (Mahela Jayawardene 59, Virender Sehwag 95*; Lasith Malinga 1 for 26) by 9 wickets.
Man of the Match: Virender Sehwag.
(R Vishal is a journalist and an alumni of the Asian School of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter @vishhell)