Punjab cruise to third win in a row

Punjab players celebrate the fall of a wicket in their IPL match against Delhi AFP

By Suneer Chowdhary

Dharmasala: May 15, 2011

Punjab seems to be making a late surge into the Indian Premier League after they won their third successive game of the competition at HPCA stadium in Dharamasala. Delhi Daredevils, who needed to score 171 as their target, were restricted to 141 to give Punjab their sixth victory in the IPL this year.

In the end, it was on expected lines. The Delhi Daredevils batting, by Virender Sehwag s own admission relied too heavily on his batting and his absence from the tournament has taken the sheen away from the side.

In any case, 171 was always going to be a tough ask but after a steady start, the Daredevils would have entertained some hopes of putting it across Punjab.

Then Shalabh Srivastava, who had conceded 17 in his first over, grabbed a couple of wickets off successive overs to trigger the beginning of the end for the visitors.

The Delhi openers had scored only 18 after the fourth over before Dave Warner finally smacked a six in the fifth. Srivastava was carted for a couple of sixes by Naman Ojha to take the side to 42 without the loss of any wickets at the end of the sixth.

Both openers, however, perished to the same bowler, caught by the wicket-keeper. Ojha nicked one behind while a top-edge from Warner lobbed up to Adam Gilchrist.

The run-rate slowed to an extent that the side now needed more than 100 in the last ten overs and that only assisted in the further clatter of wickets.

Playing his first game this season, S Sriram top-edged a sweep shot and Venugopal Rao followed him soon after, caught in the deep off the same bowler, Piyush Chawla.

Rao, Irfan Pathan and James Hopes fell within five runs of each other and the defeat seemed imminent.

Despite having Travis Birt in their line-up, he was sent in only at the number seven position, by which time, the Daredevils had lost half their side for 92. Birt hit a couple of fours and then a six off Praveen Kumar but was superbly caught by Ryan Harris when he was bidding to pull another to the fence.

Harris jumped up at the edge of the boundary and plucked the catch out of thin air to come up with arguably the best catch of this season.

Punjab lost Gilchrist early but were rescued through a second wicket century stand between Shaun Marsh and Paul Valthaty. Delhi, who had won the toss and set themselves up to chase, got Gilchrist to Morne Morkel, but were thwarted by an extremely superb century-stand between the two that came off less than 11 overs.

In the process, Valthaty also edged ahead of Chris Gayle in the top run-getters chart this season.

Valthaty smashed two boundaries in the fifth over off Varun Aaron before taking on Aavishkar Salvi with a four and a six. Marsh bided his time at the start of his innings before turning on the heat at the end of the strategic time-out that was taken after nine overs.

It was during this time that the Punjab side scored 59 runs off a five-over period and got Punjab back into the game. Valthaty crossed his half-century and Marsh looked good to get to his, but both fell off successive balls from Irfan Pathan.

Punjab were 128 for three at that stage and while they were prevented from blowing their opponents apart, Dinesh Karthik s 19-ball 27 helped them get to 170 for six in their 20 overs.

It proved to be 29 runs too many in the end.

Brief Scores: KXIP 170 for 6 in 20 overs (Paul Valthaty 62, Shaun Marsh 47; Irfan Pathan 3 for 28, Mornel Morkel 1 for 23) bt DD 141 for 8 in 20 overs (David Warner 29, Naman Ojha 28; Piysh Chawla 3 for 16, Shalabh Srivastava 2 for 39) by 29 runs.

Man of the match: Piyush Chawla

Full Scorecard

(Suneer is a Mumbai-based cricket writer and can be contacted at suneerchowdhary@gmail.com and Tweets here @suneerchowdhary)