Delhi Daredevils are the surprise team this year in IPL. Finishing at the bottom for last couple of seasons, Delhi has bounced back in style. They are at number 2 on the points table that too, having played 2 matches less than the table toppers Gujarat Lions. The Lions have 6 wins from 9 matches while the Daredevils now have 5 wins from 7 matches.
They started with a loss against the KKR and then strung together some spectacular cricket to win matches back to back.
The only other surprise loss came against their opponents of today; the Gujarat Lions, that too by a thread margin of just 1 run, in Delhi. Now was the moment to return the favor at the Lions home ground, Rajkot, and the Daredevils did that in complete domination of the match.
Zaheer Khan won the toss for Delhi and elected to field. A move that could misfire, given the batting prowess of the Lions but the Daredevils seemed more prepared for the duel with their smart tactics.
The new ball was handed to the left arm spinner Nadeem for the first over against Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum, and the move almost paid off immediately as Nadeem had McCullum plumb in front of stumps but the umpire disagreed.
The luck did not last long as Zaheer Khan bowling his first over and the 3rd of the Lions innings bowled McCullum beating his short arm pull for just 1 run. Nadeem came back in the next over to pick the big wickets of Smith and Finch to push the Lions completely on backfoot with the scoreboard showing 24 for 3 in 4 overs. New batsmen Raina and Dinesh Karthik started rebuilding the innings with an half century stand for the 4 wicket just before Raina was stumped off the bowling of Amit Mishra. Next man Ravindra Jadeja along with Karthik played some good strokes to lift the run rate for Gujarat in the final overs.
Karthik fell for 53 off 43 while Jadeja was unbeaten on 36 off just 26 balls to finish the Lions’ innings at 149 for 7, setting 150 for Delhi to chase. The score on this Rajkot wicket was well below par.
Gujarat Lions would have hoped for a good new ball spell from their opening bowlers to set the match up for them. Delhi opened with the regular Quinton DeKock and the India under 19 opener Rishabh Pant. Pant who played the last couple of matches for Delhi as a lower middle order batsmen was up to the position where he should be.
Rishabh Pant and Quinton Dekock started in an explosive fashion, hitting all the bowlers around the park.
Pant, in particular was the aggressor with shots all around the ground. They brought up the team 50 in 4.5 overs and finished the powerplay at 61 for 0, washing away all the hopes for Gujarat Lions to bounce back.They went on to add 115 runs for the 1st wicket but departed in quick succession to leave DD at 120 for 2 with the match all but in theur pocket. Duminy and Sanju Samson finished the proceedings with 16 balls and 8 wickets to spare.
Pant top scored with 69 off just 40 balls and Quinton scored a fluent 46 off 45 balls.
This match was a statement by the Daredevils. A statement that they are no longer the underdogs but serious contenders for the trophy. They have held on to their position in the top half of the points table consistently till now, at the halfway stage of the competition. The Daredevils have showed great determination and grit to prove all the detractors wrong. Gujarat Lions still sit on the top of the point table but consecutive defeats would have shaken them up. They would look to bounce back in their next game to waive off any doubts about their team.