Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sehwag, Gambhir return to form as Delhi thrash Mumbai

Sehwag and Gambhir marked their return to form with blistering knocks as Delhi Daredevils prepared for the IPL semifinals with a comfortable four-wicket victory over Mumbai Indians in their last league match in Centurion on Thursday.

After restricting Mumbai Indians to 165 for eight, Sehwag cracked 27-ball 50 while Gambhir blasted 47 off 38 balls to guide their team to victory at Supersports park.

The Daredevils, who had already assured themselves of a berth in the semifinals, could have won with a bigger margin had they not lost four wickets in quick succession to make it a little tight in the end.

Chasing 166 to win, Delhi had a rollicking start with opener David Warner (15) and Gambhir clobbering the pacers all over the park, which included a six off Dhawal Kulkarni over long on by Warner.

However, the Australian was sent packing by Kulkarni when he mishit a raising delivery only to lob it to Ashraful.

Skipper Virender Sehwag then joined Gambhir in the middle and the duo recreated their old magic by stitching together a 68-run partership for the second wicket to help Delhi score fifty in 5.2 overs and then reached 104 in 11 overs.

Out of form, Sehwag found his form back and punished the bowlers with disdain. Kulkarni was at his receiving end in the sixth over when he dispatched the lanky pacer three times across the boundary to accumulate 14 runs.

In the 10th over, Sehwag picked up his first six off Abhishek Nayar and followed it up with two more fours to score 16 runs off the over.

Gambhir, meanwhile, kept the scoreboard ticking before his mishit skier was caught by Ashraful at third man in the 12th over.

After cruising along comfortably at 104 for one at one stage, Delhi lost the wickets of Tillakaratne Dilshan (24) and Sehwag in successive deliveries in the 15th over to slump to 144 for four.

Two overs later, inform AB De Villiers (6) and Rajat Bhatia (2) returned to the hut to reduce Delhi to 153 for six with Harbahjan Singh capturing all the four wickets giving away only 17 runs.

But by then it was too late as Amit Mishra picked up the winning run to take his team home in 17.3 overs. Earlier, Ajinkya Rahane cracked a brisk 41-ball 56, while Sachin Tendulkar hit a patient 46 as Mumbai Indians posted a competitive 165 for eight.

Rahane stitched together a 54-ball 73-run partnership with Tendulkar for the fourth wicket to anchor the Mumbai Indians after skipper Virender Sehwag won the toss and decided to field.

Rahane's innings was studded with five boundaries and two hits over the fence.

Put into bat, Mumbai made a shaky start, losing three quick wickets -- Sanath Jayasuriya (0), JP Duminy (9) and Mohammad Ashraful (2) -- as they stuttered to 31 for 3 in the first six overs.

Australian Dirk Nannes in his first legal delivery in the first over trapped Jayasuriya leg before wicket to put Mumbai on the back foot.

Tendulkar then played two beautiful looking shots at square leg and mid-off to step up the tempo, while new man Duminy also got into the act, greeting Nannes with a flashy hook and a straight drive for successive boundaries.

However, Nannes had the last laugh as he sent him packing in the next ball, when Duminy nicked his away swinging delivery only to be caught behind by Dinesh Karthik.

Playing his first match in the IPL, Bangladesh import Ashraful also didn't last long and was sent back into the hut by Pradeep Sangwan in his first over.

Tendulkar and Rahane then steadied the ship and involved in some copybook shots and quick singles to bring up the fifty in 7.3 overs and then the hundred in 13 overs.

But three balls later, all-rounder Rajat Bhatia brought Delhi back into the game, as he got rid off Tendulkar. Trying to make room for himself, Tendulkar found his furniture shattered by Bhatia's straight delivery.

However, Rahane kept the scoreboard ticking and sent Amit Mishra across mid-wicket for a four and then brought up the first six of the Mumbai innings in the 17th over with a flashy strike over extra-cover.

In the next over, Rahane picked up the second six off Aavishkar Salvi. Pinal Shah (12), Harbhajan Singh (12) also played some useful shots in the end to help Mumbai across the 150 mark.

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