DELHI // Dinesh Karthik is a bundle of energy, whether with the bat, behind the stumps or in the field. That he is a clean striker of the ball is well established, but far too often in the recent past, he has flattered to deceive.
Before this game, he had just two fifties in 11 innings in this season’s Indian Premier League, but the Karthik who turned up at Feroz Shah Kotla against Kings XI Punjab last night was at his dominant best, marrying brute force with superb timing in his 44-ball 69.
One would think that would guarantee Delhi Daredevils two points, but their long wait for victory on home turf was extended by a marauding Manan Vohra and a responsible Akshar Patel, as Punjab became the first team to seal a play-off berth in the competition.
While Vohra got off to a pulsating start, Virender Sehwag, his opening partner, enjoyed the best seat in the house and watched the ball soar over the ropes with regularity. Vohra’s blitzkrieg, a 19-ball 42 studded with four fours and three sixes, helped Punjab surge ahead despite a mini-implosion that Akshar later led his team out of, as Punjab overhauled Delhi’s 164 for seven with four wickets and two balls to spare.
While Punjab remained unflustered despite losing a flurry of wickets during their chase, Delhi made them sweat in the first half of the game despite the early loss of Murali Vijay.
Kevin Pietersen found the sweet spot of his bat and his footwork looked more assured. Aiding him were the Punjab bowlers, who struggled initially to find the right length. Beuran Hendricks, especially, came in for some tap as he conceded 23 in his first two overs.
While Pietersen set the tempo early, Karthik soon caught up as Delhi raced away to 84 for one in 10 overs. Particularly attractive was Karthik’s nifty footwork against Sandeep Sharma, who was picked away over deep backward square leg nonchalantly. Rishi Dhawan, too, came under the pump as Pietersen slashed and drove him with ease.
But the sight of spin made Pietersen edgy so it was no surprise when Akshar, the left-arm spinner, dismissed him with a peach for a well made 32-ball 49 with the ball spinning across to hit off stump. The wicket brought out JP Duminy, who has thrived in his role as finisher. But Delhi’s final push took its time coming and it was not until the 15th over that the batsmen raised the tempo.
Duminy’s dismissal in the 16th over triggered a collapse as Sandeep and Hendricks came back well after an insipid start to pick up three wickets apiece. With Delhi scoring just 30 off the last four overs, the momentum had clearly swung Punjab’s way by half time.
With Vohra beginning at a rapid pace 66 runs came in the Power Play overs and Punjab were well on their way. There was a brief flutter as Punjab slipped from 67 without loss to 94 for four but mature batting from Akshar saw him and Rishi Dhawan guide Punjab home.
Nisha Shetty is a sub editor with Wisden India. You can visit www.wisdenindia.com for more or follow their Twitter coverage @WisdenIndia
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