Wrecking-ball Sehwag keeps DD on top
The Delhi Daredevils, led by their resident wrecking ball Virender Sehwag, cemented their position at the top of the Indian Premier League log as they hammered the Rajasthan Royals by six wickets at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on Tuesday.
Sehwag put on a phenomenal show as he plundered 73 off 38 balls, cruising to their target of 142 with 28 balls to spare, after the Royals had made a meal of the second half of their innings to finish with a mediocre 141 for six.
Sehwag's great innings, highlighting not only his power but also his uncanny ability to find the gaps, handed Rajasthan their fourth successive defeat, leaving them languishing in sixth place, while the Daredevils now lead the Kolkata Knight Riders by three points at the top of the standings.
The Delhi captain married brute force with tremendous skill as he dominated a fruitful second-wicket partnership of 96 in 9.5 overs with Kevin Pietersen, who did not need to assert himself too much as he strolled to 36 off 34 balls.
Shane Watson, who was the best of the Rajasthan bowlers with one for 29 in his four overs, removed Pietersen when he had him caught at long-off and even the cheap dismissal of Ross Taylor (6), slicing a pull at a Brad Hogg chinaman, left no doubt as to who the winners would be.
It was Hogg who eventually removed Sehwag, slicing a cut to backward point, ending a top-class innings in a rather soft fashion.
Naman Ojha then hit spinner Ashok Menaria's first two balls for a four and a six to complete a thorough victory for the IPL pace-setters.
It is said that opening partnerships lay the foundation for the innings, but the Rajasthan Royals totally wasted theirs as they stagnated to 141 for six after winning the toss and electing to bat.
Left-arm spinner Pawan Negi was the hero for the Daredevils with four for 18 in his four overs, but Morne Morkel was equally as brilliant, once again showing his class with one for 23 in four overs.
Opening batsman and captain Rahul Dravid was the top scorer for Rajasthan with a determined 57 off 43 balls, but he will be very disappointed with how the innings faded away after he and Ajinkya Rahane had added 71 for the first wicket in 8.4 overs.
Rahane was once again in sublime form as he powered to 42 off 32 balls, with seven thunderous fours, but the competition's leading run-scorer was not quite the same batsman after Morkel hit him on the head with a ferocious, quick bouncer in the sixth over.
Rahane was the first victim of the 19-year-old Negi as his reverse-sweep was rather lamely placed straight into the hands of Sehwag at backward point.
Watson, who was in the West Indies with the Australian team just 72 hours previously, heaved Delhi's other left-arm spinner, Shahbaz Nadeem for six, but was given a rude awakening by Negi, who skidded a delivery through to bowl the all-rounder for eight.
Owais Shah (1) tried to have a dip at impressive fast bowler Umesh Yadav (4-0-28-1) and could only glove a catch to wicketkeeper Ojha, and Negi then cut deep into the Rajasthan lower-order when he removed Brad Hodge (1) and Menaria (2) in his final over.
Dravid completed a well-put-together half-century, off 35 balls, by driving Morkel crisply through extra cover for his seventh four in the 17th over, but it was little consolation as the Royals still finished with a poor total on a good batting pitch.
Dravid departed in Morkel's next over when he tried to hit the tall fast bowler over the leg-side, but could only edge the ball into his leg, from where it hit the stumps.
RAJASTHAN ROYALS - Rahul Dravid, Ajinkya Rahane, Shane Watson, Brad Hodge, Owais Shah, Shreevats Goswami, Ashok Menaria, Brad Hogg, Ankeet Chavan, Amit Singh, Pankaj Singh.
DELHI DAREDEVILS - Mahela Jayawardena, Virender Sehwag, Kevin Pietersen, Ross Taylor, Yogesh Nagar, Naman Ojha, Irfan Pathan, Pawan Negi, Morne Morkel, Shahbaz Nadeem, Umesh Yadav.