Kevin Pietersen,who was transferred from the Deccan Chargers to the Delhi Daredevils pre-season,showed just what his previous employers were missing out on when he smashed an unbeaten 103 off 64 balls in the home side’s five-wicket win. The second century of IPL V,and Pietersen’s maiden T20 hundred,sent Delhi to the top of the table with four wins in five matches while Deccan remained winless and rooted to the bottom after four games.
Almost incredibly for a T20 knock,close to 90 per cent of Pietersen’s runs came in the ‘V’ between long on and long off. Pietersen paced his innings to perfection,starting slowly and changing gears later on even as his team mates made little impact during the chase of Deccan’s 158.
Slow off the blocks
Until the eighth over,Pietersen was scoring at less than a run a ball,his 18 runs at that stage coming off 20 balls. At that point,Delhi were struggling at 42 for three,with Naman Ojha,Virender Sehwag and Mahela Jayawardene already back in the hut and the required rate had almost touched nine. Amit Mishra’s first over helped him break the shackles with a boundary and two towering sixes,one of which was a stand out inside out hit off the backfoot. He took a special liking to the slower bowlers,crashing JP Duminy for three sixes in a row a couple of overs later.
Despite wickets still tumbling at the other end, Pietersen continued to flourish with further sixes coming off the bowling of Veer Pratap Singh,Dan Christian and the Ankit Sharma,the last of which sealed the match for the home side. In total,Pietersen hit nine sixes to go with six fours,and currently averages 155 for this edition of the IPL.
Things could have been different,had the Chargers taken their chances in the match. Pietersen was dropped thrice (on 6,68 and 95) during the course of his knock while the visitors also blew a great start to their innings when the partnership between Shikhar Dhawan and Parthiv Patel guided the side to 101/2 at the end of eleven overs. A series of wickets after that slowed Deccan,as the side made just 56 runs more of the nine overs that remained.
Pietersen’s one-man effort,however,kept the spotlight away from a series of failures,both with bat and ball for Delhi on a Kotla pitch that looked at its best in recent years. The Delhi bowling unit maintained their lines but could not hit the right lengths,which helped Deccan overcome the early loss of Kumar Sangakkara.
Two overs each from Ajit Agarkar and Umesh Yadav cost Delhi 54 in four overs in the first half of the innings. Parthiv Patel started the carnage,smacking Irfan Pathan for three consecutive boundaries while Shikhar Dhawan welcomed Agarkar with a six. When a pre-meditated sweep of Shahbaz Nadeem ended his innings he had made 44 from 29 balls. Nadeem came up with another telling performance,picking up three wickets for 16 runs and was instrumental in Deccan’s slide from 103/2 to 132/7. Morne Morkel (3/23) also ensured that Deccan did not get away at the death,but it was one man Pietersen who made the difference.