Adamant on Friday that he would come the party for his team at the weekend, Delhi Daredevils captain Virender Sehwag duly led from the front and basked in his example after Saturday’s convincing 38-run win over the Kochi Tuskers Kerala in the Indian Premier League.
The visiting skipper struck a superb knock of 80 from just 47 balls as Delhi posted 157 for seven and then restricted Kochi to 119 all out in 18.5 overs.
Forced to steady the ship in the wake of two early blows from Shantha Sreesanth (two for 10), who got rid of David Warner and Naman Ojha for three and nought respectively, Sehwag gradually kicked into his typically brash approach to batting across a testing Nehru Stadium pitch.
With Yogesh Nagar’s complementary 22 and Travis Birt’s sidekick 20 to follow, the swashbuckling right-hander weathered the initial storm, promptly cashed in, and then watched with joy as three wickets apiece from South African recruits Morne Morkel and Roelof van der Merwe sealed Delhi’s win with five balls to spare.
“I am absolutely happy. The wicket was not easy. I took the responsibility. Once we got past 120 runs, I thought we had a par score. We were very happy we got to 150 and a bit more. I was hitting the ball nicely. It was obvious I had to bat longer. I told myself that if I just stayed longer we could get a good total on this wicket,” said the triumphant captain.
“I just told my bowlers to bowl straight, and the wicket would do the rest.”
The victory rose the Daredevils from stone last to seventh in the 10-team standings, while the Tuskers were left to wallow in ninth position.
Defeated captain Mahela Jayawardene rued Kochi’s inability to capitalise on Sreesanth’s removal of danger man Warner and wicketkeeper-batsman Ojha in the second over of the match.
Whereas seamer Sreesanth pinpointed the perfect length in trying conditions, Balachandra Akhil, in particular, was too short and fellow slow bowler Ramesh Powar too full.
“Restricting Delhi to a score of around would have been goof but 150-odd was too tough,” lamented Jayawardene.
“The way we bowled in the last 10 overs, we didn’t have any control over things. The low bounce, it was tough, We had to adjust, but we didn’t bowl in good areas.”
The Daredevils and Kochi meet again on Monday at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi. Cricket365