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Praveen Kumar © Gallo Images

Miller steers Punjab to victory

David Miller’s undefeated 34 from 39 balls was enough to guide the Kings XI Punjab to a five-wicket victory with 18 balls to spare over the Delhi Daredevils in their low-scoring IPL clash at Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi on Tuesday.

Full Scorecard: Delhi v Punjab

Australian David Warner’s 36-ball knock of 40 had earlier given the Daredevils’ innings an element of respectability as they reached 120 for seven in their 20 overs, and superb bowling displays from Roelof van der Merwe (4-1-17-1) and Johan Botha (4-0-23-1) pegged the visitors back to 70 for four in reply.

However, Miller, whose explosive 80 from 41 balls had clinched victory over the Pune Warriors on Sunday, kept a cool head, and maturely guided his team to a comfortable victory.

Despite the win, the Kings XI remain in fifth place on the points table, albeit just two points behind the second-placed Chennai Super Kings. A seventh reverse of a miserable campaign for Delhi sees them rooted to the foot of the table on two points.

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Having earlier been asked to bat first by the Kings XI, the hosts lost a wicket with the fourth ball of the innings as Mahela Jayawardene (four) edged to wide slip off Kumar having struck a boundary the delivery before.

Van der Merwe (eight) then gave his wicket away in the fourth over as he top edged one to cover, and when the dangerous Virender Sehwag (23), who had blasted two fours and a six, was brilliantly caught at cover the Daredevils were restricted to 45 for three after seven overs.

The impressive Warner was then joined by Manprit Juneja (14), and the pair steadied the ship effectively before beginning to show signs of aggression. However, Harmeet Singh’s (4-0-24-3) double strike in the 14th over brought the curtain down on the 39-run stand, and the loss of Warner in the 18th over blighted any hopes the home side may have had for some late impetus.

The Punjab side then made a poor start in reply as captain Adam Gilchrist (six) continued his wretched run of form; top edging the third delivery of the innings to Botha at extra cover.

Fellow opener Mandeep Singh (24) then launched an extraordinary counter-attack as he smashed five boundaries in the space of seven balls in the second and third overs. New-man Luke Pomersbach (18) also showed intent of his own, and the Australian later powerfully reverse-swept Van der Merwe for four to bring up his team’s fifty midway through the fifth over.

But two wickets in the two deliveries that followed brought all momentum to a grinding halt. Pomersbach needlessly tried to heave the left-arm spinner over the in-field and lost his middle stump, before a direct hit in a suicidal single accounted for Singh.

Delhi were able to put a strangle on the new pair of Miller and Manan Vohra (eight), and the pressure told in the 10th over as the young Indian got under a sweep which Botha caught well off his own bowling.

At 70 for four, the Daredevils may have felt they were in the game. But Miller adopted a sensible approach and began to wrestle control of the match as he brought up the hundred in the 14th over.

Compatriot Van der Merwe’s bowling was nothing short of impeccable, and his maiden the following over was instrumental in building the pressure that saw David Hussey (20) dismissed in the 16th.

But with just 11 runs required at that stage, the result was already a foregone conclusion, and for the second game in a row, Miller kept his composure to steer Punjab to a crucial victory.

DELHI DAREDEVILS: DPMD Jayawardene (capt), V Sehwag, DA Warner, MC Juneja, KM Jadhav (wk), J Botha, RE van der Merwe, IK Pathan, AB Agarkar, A Nehra, UT Yadav

KINGS XI PUNJAB: AC Gilchrist (capt & wk), Mandeep Singh, M Vohra, LA Pomersbach, DJ Hussey, DA Miller, PP Chawla, P Kumar, Harmeet Singh, BA Bhatt, P Awana


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