Coming into this match,the Delhi Daredevils top-order was a snuggly little place to be. Opener and captain Virender Sehwag had singlehandedly engineered Delhi’s rise to the top,with five half-centuries. In their previous game against the Deccan Chargers,a match in which Sehwag failed,opener David Warner scored the highest individual score of this season (109*),No.3 bat Naman Ojha made 64 unnoticable runs and all was well with their campaign,as the pair stitched together a 189-run stand the second highest in the IPL.
Then,on Saturday,the Chennai Super Kings decided to test their middle-order. And it goes without saying that the toppers were rudely woken up from their golden slumber.
With an incisive three-over spell from Ben Hilfenhaus,Chennai had reduced the Daredevils to 24/3 at the end of the fifth over. The Tasmanian devil had claimed Sehwag,Warner and Ojha in the quickest of succession,simultaneously ripping Delhi’s head off. At that point,his figures read 3-0-14-3. With a largely untested and blunt Delhi middle-order to deal with,CSK skipper MS Dhoni took Hilfenhaus off the attack until the end.
The Australian’s figures were smudged as he was hit for 13 runs in the penultimate over of the innings. But between his first burst and his second,Chennai’s spin triumvirate of R Ashwin,Ravindra Jadeja and Shadab Jakati played their containing roles to perfection. So despite Hilfenhaus conceding the most expensive over of the innings,the Delhi Daredevils managed to reach a total of just 114 runs which CSK knocked off with nine wickets to spare.
It was the perfect end to Chennai’s home fixtures,where every decision taken proved to be the right one,including that of winning the toss and choosing to bowl first. Sehwag threatened to cut loose in the very first over by flicking Hilfenhaus off his pads for four,but the fast bowler responded with a peach,swinging it sharp and late away from Sehwag’s blade and on to his off-stump.
While Sehwag at least managed to get that solitary boundary,Hilfenhaus didn’t let fellow countryman Warner have even that concession. Facing the bowler for the first time in the game,Warner tried clearing a full ball outside off over the infield,but couldn’t get it past mid-off. In his next over,Hilfenhaus troubled Ojha with both seam and swing for the majority of the over,before reaping his reward a caught behind with the last ball of his spell.
Walking in at 24/3,Mahela Jayawardene epitomised everything that is wrong with the Delhi middle-order. Without getting his eye in,Jayawardene tried to lazily flick a bad Albie Morkel ball to the midwicket fence,and only managed to lob it straight to mid-on. If Jayawardene was too eager,Yogesh Nagar was the exact opposite. In his attempt to conserve wickets,Nagar completely forgot about scoring runs.
Nagar marked his crease in the sixth over,and scored his first boundary in the 19th. Despite following that up with a six two balls later,Nagar ended with an unbeaten 47-ball 43. A strike rate of 91 from the team’s top scorer rarely ever ends up on the winning side.
Brief scores: Delhi 114/5 (Y Nagar 43,Y Rao 27,B Hilfenhaus 3/27); CSK 115/1 in 15.2 overs (M Vijay 48 n.o,I Pathan 1/15)