There were no favourites when Kings XI Punjab took on Delhi Daredevils in their respective second matches at Feroz Shah Kotla on Thursday. But, on the day, hosts Delhi outdid Punjab rather comprehensively. Delhi’s batting had let them down in their previous game, but this time they bowled first, and ensured that the opposition remains constantly tied down. Having been kept down to 111, the only way Punjab could have won is if they got rid of some Delhi batsmen early. But, here too, the hosts outshone the visitors, and proved to be the better batting side of the two.
The match was won by Delhi and lost by Punjab in the period where they lost their big three batsmen. Shaun Marsh was nicely foxed by Amit Mishra and stumped for 13. The experienced leg spinner then trapped opposition skipper David Miller for 9, and added the wicket of Glenn Maxwell, who was sent back for a duck. All these three wickets fell between the seventh and the ninth over. And, during this period, Punjab collapsed from a reasonable 37 for 1 to 52 for 4. The constant failures of Marsh and Maxwell should begin to worry Punjab.
Punjab’s overall batting performance was also below par. Murali Vijay, of whom the team expects so much, got run-out after being dropped by opposition skipper Zaheer Khan, as Delhi got an early gift. The other opener Manan Vohra was the only batsman to reach the 30s, but he too was claimed by Mishra on 32. In fact, at the fall of Vohra’s wicket, Punjab slid to 59 for 5, which means his contribution hadn’t made much of a difference to the team’s cause. Lower down the order, Axar Patel and Wriddhiman Saha also disappointed.
Delhi would be extremely pleased with the manner in which they fought back after being embarrassed in their series opener. Mishra brought all experience into play to finish with match-turning figures of 4 for 11. A lot of foreign batsmen found it difficult to read him, pointing to the fact that India perhaps missed a trick by dropping him from the World T20 squad. Zaheer Khan also came back well, and his slower balls and swinging deliveries troubled the batsmen at the top, and towards the end of the innings. Good support also came from South African all-rounder Chris Morris.
Delhi’s batsmen also did a nice job to ensure that there wasn’t much trouble for the team in the chase. It was a performance in total contrast to the first match, but the big difference this time was of course that they were chasing and that too a low score. Quinton de Kock led the batting charge with an unbeaten half century as Delhi did not give Punjab even an inch in the match. Sanju Samson also chipped in with a fluent 33. It was a near perfect effort from Delhi, which both sides were desperately hoping for.
--By A Cricket Analyst