New Delhi: Kevin Pietersen smashed a match-winning century as Delhi Daredevils cruised to their fourth victory after crushing Deccan Chargers by five wickets in an IPL game at the Feroz Shah Kotla here on Thursday.
Pietersen (103 not out off 64) clubbed six fours and nine huge sixes as Delhi chased down a challenging 158 in 19.1 overs after Deccan’s skipper Kumar Sangakkara won the toss and elected to bat. Yogesh Nagar, with his unbeaten 23 off 15, provided good support to Pietersen. Deccan were in control when they reduced Delhi to 65 for 4 in the tenth over, but Pietersen, who was dropped thrice on 6, 68 and 94, took full advantage of the lacklustre Deccan fielding as the visitors succumbed to their fourth successive loss.
Medium-pacer Veer Pratap Singh, playing his first IPL match, gave Deccan the perfect start, getting Naman Ojha (1 off 4) caught by JP Duminy in his first over itself. Dale Steyn, after beating both Virender Sehwag (7 off 5) and Pietersen a couple of times, got the wicket of the former when the Delhi skipper edged an away-swinging delivery to Daniel Christian at first slip. Sehwag’s dismissal was followed by the departure of experienced Mahela Jayawardene (6 off 5), who was caught at mid-off by Sangakkara off Christian, and the run-out of Ross Taylor (13 off 11) pegged Delhi further back.
Unperturbed by the fall of wickets though, Pietersen continued his fluent touch, launching Amit Mishra for two sixes and a four in his very first over. After getting to his fifty in 42 balls, Pietersen went into an ultra-aggressive mode, smashing Duminy for three consecutive sixes. The first two came off full tosses, while the third was off a pitched-up delivery. Deccan's fielders did not help their cause and with Yogesh Nagar's 23-run cameo, Pietersen was able to take Delhi over the line with ease. The Englishman even reached his first IPL century - the second hundred of this tournament - hitting the winning runs by clearing the straight ropes off left-arm orthodox Ankit Sharma in the final over.
Earlier, Shikhar Dhawan and Parthiv Patel, with their 71-run partnership for the second wicket, threatened to take the game away from Delhi after Deccan lost skipper Sangakkara (1 off 7) in the third over. Dhawan was the more aggressive of the two left-handers, scoring on both sides of the wicket. But while trying a reverse sweep off Shahbaz Nadeem, Dhawan misjudged a straight delivery and was trapped lbw for 44 off 29. Another 25 runs were scored before Patel was caught brilliantly at square leg by Jayawardene. Like Dhawan, Patel also hit five fours and a six during his knock of 45 off 27.
Getting the wickets of two set batsmen, Delhi ran through Deccan’s middle order, taking four wickets for 28 runs. Duminy (4 off 5) gave Nadeem his second wicket, Christian (19 off 21) was caught off Umesh Yadav, Abhishek Jhunjhunwala (4 off 5) and Steyn (2 off 3) became the victims of Morne Morkel. A little cameo (25 off 17) by Bharat Chipli lifted Deccan at the end, however, taking them to a competitive score of 157 for 8.
With another three to his name, Morkel became the highest wicket-taker in IPL 5, with 12 wickets. Nadeem also continued his brilliant form, picking up 3 for 16 with his slow left-arm. But Indian pacers Ajit Agarkar and Yadav were taken to the cleaners by Deccan’s batsmen, going for 42 and 33 in their respective three overs.
It all ended well for Delhi though, and their win took them to the top of the table, level on points with Rajasthan Royals having played one game less. Deccan, meanwhile, were left to rue their fielding as they stayed bottom without a win in four games in the tournament so far.