As the IPL 9 nears its decisive stages, it is the teams that are not relevant seem to matter the most. The bottom ranked teams that are out of the qualifiers already are the most dangerous teams right now. With 6 teams fighting for a spot in the top 4, the bottom 2 teams are spoiling the party for others as Delhi would have learned today.
The teams out of the race have nothing to lose now and are playing for pride in their remaining matches hence they can afford to be aggressive and play freely.
While the contenders are mostly facing must win situations in every game and playing under huge amount of pressure. That is where the difference lies. The Rising Pune Supergiants have delivered a crucial punch to the Delhi Daredevils which could prove fatal for the Daredevils as they now have to win both their remaining matches to qualify.
The Supergiants won the toss and had no apprehensions in bowling first on a helpful Vizag wicket. Ashok Dinda started well with the new ball, swinging it to beat the batsmen many a times. Openers Quinton DeKock and Shreyas Iyer, both fell to the pace of Ashok Dinda inside the first 5 overs of their innings, setting Delhi back. Delhi scored their third score of below 30 in the powerplays this season as they made only 28 for 2 in the first 6 overs.
Karun Nair was playing steadily at one end but the DD innings never moved forward as they failed to touch a run rate of even 6 runs an over for 19 overs.
The 20th and the last over of the innings went for 22 runs to give Delhi a run rate of 6. Delhi were reduced to 70 for 5 in the 15th over and all hopes lied on JP Duminy and Chris Morris to give the innings the finish it required. Duminy failed again while Morris tried his best with an explosive unbeaten innings of 38 from just 20 balls but it was never going to be enough as Delhi posted just 121 runs in their 20 overs.
The Supergiants had a target of 122 and until the Delhi bowlers could come up with a magical performance, the match was in Pune’s pocket. Delhi would have hoped to get at least 2-3 wickets in the powerplay to try and make a contest out of it but Pune openers Ajinkya Rahane and Usman Khawaja denied Delhi any such opportunity. The opening pair had put on 31 before Khawaja was dismissed by Chris Morris in the 4th over. In context of this match, it was a decent enough partnership. Rahane continued his run of form with George Bailey just managing to stay alive on the other end. Pune reached at 57 for 1 in the 9th over when the rain came down to stop the match for a while. The match resumed and so did the Pune pair to take their team to 76 for 1 in the 11th over when the rain came down again, this time to decide the match.
According to Duckworth-Lewis method, Pune were ahead of the required score by 19 runs and were declared winners. Rahane was not out on 42 off 36 balls.
This match has pushed the Daredevils to the brink. Suddenly from a certain qualification froma couple of games ago, the Daredevils have lost the way and now need to win both their remaining games at any cost to qualify. The even dangerous part is that the remaining two matches are against the red hot Sunrisers and the RCB. Delhi`s chances look bleak now but they have given some great performances this season and would hope to come with one such performance again.