Virender Sehwag racked up his fifth successive IPL 5 fifty as Delhi Daredevils put one foot in the last-4 with a six-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium here on Tuesday.
Chasing 142 to win, Delhi started off badly as Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene fell lbw to Ankeet Chavan off the third ball of the innings. Rajasthan’s hopes of a comeback, however, were cruelly crushed by the partnership between Sehwag and Kevin Pietersen, with the former playing the role of the aggressor.
The Delhi captain looked unstoppable as has been the case in the previous matches and reached his fifty off just 20 balls. Both added 95 runs and by the time Pietersen got out for 36 in the 11th over, the match was out of the home team’s reach. New Zealand captain Ross Taylor’s poor form continued as he fell for 6, giving some belief to the hosts, but Sehwag soon dashed whatever hopes they harboured and when he got out for 73 off 38 balls, Delhi were just 11 runs from the target. Naman Ojha and Yogesh Nagar completed the formality as the visitors romped home with 28 balls to go.
Earlier, electing to bat first, Rajasthan got off to a great start, with Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Dravid smashing 71 runs off 52 balls. Delhi spinner Pawan Negi removed Rahane against the run of play. A moment of indiscretion led to his departure as his badly-executed reverse sweep found Sehwag at point. Negi struck again in his next over, this time accounting for Aussie Shane Watson (8), who was playing his first match for Rajasthan this season. And then Umesh Yadav sent back the dangerous Owais Shah (1) to derail the hosts’ innings. Negi’s havoc continued at the other end as he saw the backs of Brad Hodge (1) and Ashok Menaria (2) in the space of four balls to put the home team in shambles.
Captain Dravid and Shreevats Goswami added 33 for the sixth wicket to improve things to some extent. Dravid did his best with 57 before being bowled by Morne Morkel, but the middle-order collapse cancelled out his efforts and the Jaipur-based side could only muster 141 for 6 against the most formidable batting line-up this season. Negi returned with his best IPL figures of 4 for 18.
It was Delhi’s eighth win in 10 matches and they retain their top spot in the standings, while Rajasthan lost their sixth match in 10 outings to lie in sixth.