Sehwag sizzles, Delhi dazzles
Opener’s unbeaten 95 powers Daredevils to their first win in seven matches
There were two men in this edition of Indian Premier League whose willows had been agonisingly dormant.
Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag enthralled the capacity crowd at Feroz Shah Kotla on Sunday with their exploits before Delhi Daredevils finally woke up from a self-induced slumber to cruise to a nine-wicket victory over Mumbai Indians.
Choosing to bat, Mumbai Indians could have felt confident of defending 161/4 boosted by the half centuries of Tendulkar (54) and Rohit Sharma (73). But Sehwag (95 n.o., 57 b, 13x4, 2x6) overshadowed the two and announced his return to form with a characteristically destructive innings. With Mahela Jayawardene (59, 43 b, 8x4, 1x6) supporting him well, Delhi made the chase a brutally one-sided affair.
Daredevils reached the total with 18 balls to spare to rustle up their first win of the season after six straight losses. In the process, Sehwag and Jayawardene stitched a 151-run partnership for the opening wicket besides winning back the adulation of the home crowd that had cheered Mumbai Indians earlier in the day.
One may call it the Vivian Richards effect! The great West Indian cricketer was roped in as ambassador and advisor by Dardevils before this match and sported the team jersey in the huddle before the match.
It definitely reflected in the batting at least. Sehwag freely swung the bat and Jayawardene, who had looked subdued during his past lone battles, promoted himself ahead of David Warner, and flourished. Together, they made a mockery of Mumbai’s bowling, raining fours and sixes.
Sehwag was in imperious touch. He flicked with ease, drove on either side of the wicket and comfortably milked the seamers in his favourite area- square of wicket. Mahela, quietly assiduous, exhibited sweet timing-- finding the gaps to breach the boundary with regularity. A packed Kotla, which had witnessed chants of Sachin’s name in the first half, later echoed to the sweet refrains of “Viru, Viru”.
Jayawardene departed when Daredevils was near the finishing line. But Sehwag helped Delhi cross the line with another boundary, just five shot of what could have been a well-deserved century.
Few would have given Daredevils a chance after they had lost their way during the Mumbai innings with a poor show in the outfield, marked by dropped catches and ordinary bowling.
After reducing Mumbai to 57/2 in 10 overs, Delhi might have fancied a lesser total. But powerful hitting by Rohit and Tendulkar boosted them to a respectable total. Tendulkar treated the crowd to some sparks of yore as he reached his highest total this season. His feet moved well and the pulled six off Ajit Agarkar was vintage stuff.
Rohit, with his effortless and calculated attack stepped on the gas and was a pure delight to watch. The two raced to put up 96 runs off 67 balls for the third wicket.
Tendulkar was given a life at 37 when Shahbaz Nadeem let go of a caught and bowl chance.
While Tendulkar chose to play safe, Rohit entertained the crowd with some fine strokes. Rohit tipped the maestro to reach his half century with a boundary off a Irfan Pathan full toss. A flicked six six off Umesh Yadav was the pick of his shots. Their efforts, however, did not prove enough as Daredevils cantered home in style.