Chargers dance to KP's tune

Chargers dance to KP's tune

Pietersen scores ton to single-handedly carry Daredevils to five-wicket victory

Feroze Shah Kotla turned out to be a Kevin Pietersen arena. The chants of “KP!, KP!  reverberated throughout the Delhi Daredevils innings as the irrepressible Englishman carried his team to a thrilling five-wicket over Deccan Chargers here on Thursday.
Delhi Daredevils' Kevin Pietersen celebrates his century after team;s win over Deccan Chargers during the IPL - 5 match in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI Photo

In the process, Pietersen (103 n.o, 4x4, 9x6) powered himself to a robust 64-ball century, whacking his ninth six to reach the three-figure mark, and giving Daredevils their fourth win from five matches to put them on top of the table with eight points.

The home side needed some real daredevilry while experiencing a vertigo at 65 for four during their chase of Chargers’ 157 for eight. Pietersen rose to do just that single-handedly.

Sloppy fielding by the Chargers also came to his rescue.  He was dropped thrice -- at 6 by Bharat Chipli, at 68 by Jean Paul Duminy off his own bowling and at 95 by Chargers’ skipper Kumar Sangakkara, the last being a tough one.

Pietersen turned the 13th over to be a nightmare for Duminy, mowing him with three brutal sixes in a row—to long on, mid-wicket before dancing down to hit it straight into the stands. Amit Mishra met a similar treatment and was taken to the cleaners thrice while Daniel Christian, Veer Pratap Singh and Ankit Sharma were hit once over the fence each.

Needless, to say the Kotla strip unfolded to welcome the batsmen, and Chargers’ openers Shikhar Dhawan (44) and Parthiv Patel (45), after Sangakkara chose to bat, played fluently.

Sangakarra, who, with Shikhar Dhawan, had given restless moments to the Rajasthan Royals bowlers, failed to produce an encore. He top-edged Morne Morkel (3-23) and Yogesh Nagar kept his nerves under the high ball to take the catch.

Dhawan, however, was far from being intimidated. He played with a lot of flair and his timing was top notch. He batted fearlessly and dispatched anything short and wide to the fence.

The left-hander got an able company in Parthiv, who was quick to settle down. He clobbered Irfan Pathan for three successive boundaries – through third-man and deep-square leg in the first two balls before swinging his bat to slice the ball through point.

Ajit Agarkar, introduced in the sixth over, was greeted with a six by Dhawan to the leg side before Patel smacked him to the fence to round-up a forgettable start.

The two mustered 71 runs for the second wicket and runs flew thick and fast. It was then left to Daredevils’s new find, left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem (3-16), introduced in the 10th over, to don the saviour’s hat and he was on target with his first ball.

Dhawan tried to reverse sweep Nadeem’s straighter one but ended up being trapped leg before. His innings lasted 29 balls and came with the help of five fours and a six.

Two overs laters, Nadeem cut short an entertaining innings from Patel, whose sweep was caught by Mahela Jayawardene at deep-square leg.

Duminy became the 22-year-old Jharkhand spinner’s third victim when he holed out to Sehwag at mid-wicket. But the day belonged to Pietersen, his sheer power and batsmanship a joy to behold.

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