Delhi Daredevils are a much improved side this season. The results and rankings prove it. And that seems to have made them either over confident or complacent. T20 cricket is anything but certain. A game can change within an over. Daredevils would have learnt it today for sure, with a heavy heart though. The stadium at Mohali bore a scant look as very few people came in to watch the match. This was a result of the way their team has performed till now but the Kings XI Punjab, after naming Murli Vijay as the captain, look a resurgent side.
They have now played 3 matches under Vijay so far, winning 2 out of them and nearly pulling off the rest one. Daredevils undid their changes from the last match, to bring a full strength side to Mohali.
Delhi won the toss and chose to chase yet again. The bowling of the Daredevils has been the high point of their performance till now. They started well for the first couple of overs today as well but then onwards the Punjab batsmen started to come into their own. Delhi still kept the runs in check for the first 10 overs also picking up the wickets of Murli Vijay and Hashim Amla. Marcus Stonic and Wriddhiman Saha had a good partnership in the middle for 58 runs in less than 7 overs. It was this partnership that picked the innings up for the Kings. It was evident from the fact that Punjab scored 70 odd runs in the first 10 overs and more than 100 in the next 10. Stoinic and Saha, both scored 52 before being dismissed.
Late cameos from Maxwell, Miller and Axar Patel helped Punjab post a more than par 181 for 5 in their 20 overs. The way Delhi batsmen have played till now, it was their game for the taking.
Quinton DeKock returned to open with Sanju Samson and started cautiously before opening up to bring up yet another half century off just 27 balls. DeKock scores 52 off 30 balls while Samson was steady at the other end. Delhi lost their 1st wicket for 70 on the board just inside 8 overs. Samson and new man Karun Nair rebuild the innings with a steady partnership of 51 before Samson holed out at long off trying to up the scoring rate for 49. Delhi was leading the game till that point but what then happened was dramatic. The new batsmen could not connect the ball at all scoring at less than a run a ball in the late overs when the required rate was traveling over 10. The pressure was built by some good bowling from Punjab, specially Mohit and Sandeep Sharma. Stonic was picking wickets as the batsmen targeted him. Punjab gave away just 44 runs in the last 7 overs of the Delhi innings to pull the choke on them as Delhi fell short by 9 runs in the end. Big Hitters like Sam Billings, Brathwaite and Morris could not help when required the most.
DD got the taste of their own medicine. This is what they had been doing to other teams till now.
We can just hope that this will not start yet another slide for the Delhi Daredevils and they will bounce back. For Punjab though, it is a moment of rejoice and getting their confidence back. They are still alive in the tournament and can remain so if they keep playing like this.