The Delhi Daredevils wore a new look this time, but their struggles from season past continued, with the batting mis-firing for long stretches. Though they eventually managed to put up a par 145, which was never going to trouble the star-studded Royal Challengers Bangalore line up. Delhi did not do themselves any favour in the field, dropping rival skipper Virat Kohli a couple of times during the chase. There was time for Yuvraj Singh to turn it on too as the Bangalore win was never in question.
Delhi stall with bat
At the end of the 13th over, the Daredevils were going at just over a run a ball, with the score at 83 for three. Both batsmen, JP Duminy and Ross Taylor, seemed content to knock the ball around picking up singles. Before that, a deadly spell of old-school leg-spin by Yuzvendra Chahal and some accurate new-ball bowling by the RCB pacers had kept the Delhi batsmen very quiet. Early wickets had forced Duminy and Taylor to curb their naturally aggressive styles of play.
However in the 16th over, Duminy had had enough. With his side’s score at 104, Duminy launched into a counter-attack. The left-hander took a liking to Ashoke Dinda, carting the pacer’s regular offerings of length balls and full-tosses across and over the boundary. Taylor, at the other end, was scratchy at best. Though he managed a boundary of the last ball of the 20th over bowled by Dinda, the New Zealand batsman played out far too many dot balls.
His 43 off 39 balls had four boundaries, but two of them came in Mitchell Starc’s final over, both off streaky outside edges. Taylor also denied Duminy strike on a number of occassions, unable to squeeze out singles. Delhi captain Dinesh Karthik accepted that his side’s 145 was were perhaps 20 runs short.
The two costly drops
At the end of the 13th over, Wayne Parnell had a wry smile on his face and patted Virat Kohli on his visor. Parnell had just seen his Delhi Daredevil teammates drop two catches of the RCB captain, which could only be classified as dollies. James Neesham spilled a straightforward, waist-high chance at short fine-leg off the first ball of the over. Mayank Agarwal, having a horror game, contrived to drop a ball slapped straight to him at deep point. With 57 required off 42 at the end of the 13th, Kohli’s wicket would have given Delhi a way in.
Four and a half overs later, it was all over. The remaining 57 runs were swatted away in 22 balls. More than 80 percent of these runs were accumulated through sixes, with Kohli blasting three while Yuvraj helped himself to four. It was a ferocious attack — 20 runs were plundered off the 15th over, bowled by Rahul Sharma. Three times the ball was sent to various corners of the stands at the Sharjah cricket stadium. It was soon over, with a Yuvraj six getting RCB to the cusp and Kohli finishing things off.
The return of Yuvraj
Yuvraj Singh playing his first game after his horror-run in the World T20 final, was expected to ease himself in. However the southpaw’s entry in the ninth over was anything but easy. The fourth ball he faced, Mohammed Shami served him a rapid bouncer. With the ball tailing in and climbing on the batsman, Yuvraj tried to duck. The ball flashed off the inside edge and went for four.
A couple of weeks ago, the whole of India had expected Yuvraj to snap out of his scratchy self in the World T20 final but the transformation finally happened at Sharjah. In the second over he faced, Yuvraj got down on one knee and thumped Rahul Sharma savagely to the mid-wicket fence for a six.
A crisply struck boundary arrived in the next over and a couple of overs later, Yuvraj was in the mood for a full-blown assault. Four sixes and a boundary came off the next 13 balls, Yuvraj made a whirlwind 52 off 29 balls.
All his sixes were struck cleanly, a reminder of his innate ability of being one of the finest strikers of the ball. The timing was back and so was the nonchalance, lifting waist-high full-tosses effortlessly over the fence and dumping length balls over long-on with the most minimal of efforts.