Rolling back the years:
Imran Tahir was supposed to be Delhi Daredevils’ best bet against Kings XI Punjab’s heavy artillery. He was brought into the attack after seven overs. Here was a spinner who had 15 wickets from eight matches (economy rate 4.23) in the World Cup. He added another five to the right-hand column in the first two matches of the IPL. Virender Sehwag faced him after Wriddhiman Saha had a couple and a single in the first two balls. Tahir bowled fuller, Sehwag plonked his front foot forward, got under it and dispatched it over long-off for six. Tahir dragged his length back, Sehwag cut him past point for a four. (Full Coverage| Fixtures|Points Table)
The next delivery was flatter and faster outside off. Sehwag back-cut it between short third man and backward point for another boundary. Unlike the modern-day marauders, the old master was reading the hand of the South African leg-spinner.
Best for last
After being hit for 18 runs in his first over, Tahir was held back till Sehwag perished. The latter was out, attempting to hit Duminy over the straight boundary. He had hit a six in the previous ball but this time, the bat turned in his hand and the skier went to Coulter-Nile at deep cover. Sehwag missed his half-century but reached 4,000 T20 runs during this innings.
Also, his 71-run second wicket partnership with Saha took Punjab to 105 after 14 overs and provided a perfect launching pad for some late fireworks. But they could only manage 50 more in the final five overs after Sehwag was dismissed in the 15th.
Tahir came back strong. Glenn Maxwell hit him for a couple of sixes but he was chancing his arm. He played for a top-spinner but Tahir had bowled a leg-break outside the off stump. The slice went to Manoj Tiwary at cover. The South African bowler had saved the best for last, gobbling up George Bailey and Axar Patel with back-to-back wrong’uns in the final over of the innings.
Ending Losing streak
A target of 166 was always achievable on this pitch but to break their 11-match losing streak, Delhi needed a partnership. At 56 for two after eight overs, Delhi were maintaining a steady run-rate but an iffy middle-order was exposed to the pressure. Yuvraj Singh just couldn’t afford to get out and he played a gem.
Mitchell Johnson dug one short and Yuvraj whipped him through fine leg for a boundary. Sharma bowled short and the left-hander pulled him past mid-on. Johnson then tried a fuller one, Yuvraj leaned forward and caressed it to the long-off boundary. Another full ball on the leg stump was guided to the fine leg fence. Rishi Dhawan and Maxwell were taken care of with contempt and Patel, the meanest of Indian spinners, was treated with disdain with a couple of sixes in his third over. Fifty came with a six over mid-wicket off Anureet.
At the other end, Mayank Agarwal was matching his senior partner stroke-for-stroke. He started off with a four over mid-on off Sharma and followed it up with back-to-back boundaries off Anureet in the next over. Even Johnson was not spared, being clattered for two fours and a six in an over. There was an element of luck. As Agarwal sliced Johnson in the air, Sharma ran in from sweeper cover but dropped the catch. Fortune favoured the brave.
Yuvraj and Agarwal got out in consecutive deliveries in the 19th over. But by then the 106-run stand between the two had put Delhi out of their misery.
As it happened…
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